Miss. Lawmakers Want Voters To Have Say On Health Coverage Mandate

The Associated Press/The New York Times: Two Republican lawmakers in Mississippi want voters there to have the final say on whether purchasing health insurance should be required as mandated by the new federal health reform law. State Reps. Alex Monsour and Steven Palazzo are proposing a ballot initiative to ask voters the question. It would "amend the Mississippi Constitution to prohibit laws forcing a person or employer to participate in a health care system or plan." Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is also attempting to repeal the provision by joining a 20-state lawsuit against the plan, but the lawmakers said the law needs to be challenged this way as well (4/21).

Meanwhile, in Texas, state Reps. Garnet Coleman and John Zerwas, a Democrat and Republican respectfully, are heading a committee that will oversee the implementation — and fate — of the federal health reform law, the Austin American-Statesman reports. "The panel will hear from state agencies that could be affected by the new law, which eventually will require most people to buy health insurance while also expanding Medicaid and creating insurance exchanges to help people without employer-sponsored insurance to buy coverage. … It's not unusual for legislative committee chairs and vice chairs to come from opposite sides of the partisan divide. But even so, one might wonder how Zerwas and Coleman will be able to shepherd such controversial legislation through a House that only last session was so bitterly divided over voter ID legislation that the stalemate left hundreds of bills to die without being voted on. And they will be doing it while other state officials are engaged in legal efforts to overturn the new law" (Eaton, 4/22).

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