House Bill 2, the “N.C. Healthcare Protection Act,” is likely to be reviewed this week by the North Carolina Senate for consideration after the House passed the bill by a vote of 66 to 50 on Wednesday, Feb. 2. This legislation protects North Carolina citizens from what some say is an unconstitutional mandate to enroll in health insurance or to buy medical care under the federal healthcare legislation passed last year. Enactment of HB 2 would also make North Carolina a plaintiff with 28 other states in federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
The House vote came two days after U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson ruled the entire federal healthcare bill unconstitutional. Judge Vinson’s ruling agrees with the assertions of the majority of the N.C. House, that Congress cannot mandate individual citizens to purchase health insurance.
“We believe today’s vote in the House defends our citizens against the clearly unconstitutional mandates in this overreaching federal statute,” said House Majority Leader Paul Stam (R-Wake).
Representative Jeff Barnhart (R-Cabarrus) led the floor debate. “Enactment of HB 2 will release North Carolinians from the excessive taxes and fines imposed by the bill if they choose to exercise their right to pay for their own healthcare rather than one of the mandated insurance plans,” said Barnhart.
One of the primary points expressed by House Republicans opposed to the federal healthcare legislation was the detrimental effect its implementation will have on the economy. Job creation will be severely curtailed due to the huge costs placed on the backs of small businesses to provide mandated insurance coverage for their employees.
“Increased federal regulation and costly government mandates are wrong anytime, but are especially harmful during this time of severe recession,” said Rep. David Lewis. “The costs imposed on small businesses and pharmaceutical manufacturers will severely hamper efforts at job creation essential to an economic recovery in North Carolina and the country.”
Representative Tom Murry (R-Wake), a pharmacist by profession, pointed out that the bill would allow North Carolina to join other states in the litigation challenging the constitutionality of the federal legislation. “While our bill does not require the N.C. Attorney General to file a separate lawsuit,” he said, “it does provide that our state join the other 28 states in defending our citizens against this unconstitutional individual mandate in the federal healthcare law. It’s long overdue that North Carolina stand up in defense of our citizens’ rights in this important case,” said Murry.
During floor debate it was stressed that individuals must have the right to make their own healthcare decisions, including enrolling in insurance plans and must not be compelled by government to do so.
“It is everyone’s right and responsibility to consider which health care options are best for them and their families,” stated Representative Mark Hollo (R-Alexander). Rep. Hollo is a physician’s assistant. He continued: “In some instances, it is more cost effective for people to pay their health care providers directly than to buy expensive insurance. Government must not inhibit people’s ability to do what is in their best interest concerning their own health care decisions.”