Health-care scheme scuttled in Florida

HEALTH-CARE SCHEME SCUTTLED IN FLORIDA…. It’s a fairly straightforward strategy: get a measure on the state ballot in opposition to health care reform; boost right-wing turnout; and expect those voters to support GOP candidates while they’re at the polls. We saw a similar strategy play out in 2004 with far-right activists getting measures on the ballot to prevent marriage equality.

Assuming that Republican voters hate the Affordable Care Act at least as much as gays, there’s an effort underway to repeat the model in a variety of states. One party official conceded, “What we’re trying to do is give voters an added reason to show up to the polls.”

In Florida, the GOP-led state legislature did just that. Yesterday, a state judge threw the scheme out.

Calling the wording of a Republican-backed constitutional amendment on health care “manifestly misleading,” a Circuit Court judge in Leon County has tossed it off the November ballot.

The proposal had been drafted and put forward by the GOP-led state legislature as a counter to the new federal health care plan. It would prohibit the state from participating in any health insurance exchange that compels people to buy insurance.

State law requires ballot summaries to be clear and accurate. Circuit Court Judge James Shelfer said a proposed ballot summary for the amendment contains several phrases that are political and list issues that are not addressed in the proposal.

The first sentence of the summary says the amendment would “ensure access to health care services without waiting lists, protect the doctor-patient relationship, (and) guard against mandates that don’t work.”

Shelfer said the amendment does not guarantee any of those things.

Imagine that — right-wing Republicans making “manifestly misleading” claims about health care policy. Who would have imagined?

Of course, it’s a cynical exercise anyway, since state measures, even those approved by voters, can’t trump federal law. But the point had nothing to do with policy, and everything to do with Republicans’ get-out-the-vote efforts.

While the issue in Florida is being appealed, identical efforts are continuing elsewhere. Ben Armbruster noted, “[N]ext Tuesday, Missouri voters will vote on a similar measure challenging the health insurance mandate Congress passed with the reform bill last year. The proposal ‘would prohibit governments from requiring people to have health insurance or from penalizing them for paying health bills entirely with their own money.'”

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