Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a measure that blocks the government from forcing people to buy health insurance and penalizing those who don’t.

Proposition C, one of several challenges to the Obama administration’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was supported by 71.1 percent of voters in the state’s Aug. 3 primary election. The mandate that people buy health insurance is a key component to the federal law, which goes into effect in 2014.

Hailing the vote as a major blow to Democrats, Republicans are touting the referendum as a harbinger of the fall mid-term elections. “ decisive vote against a key provision of ObamaCare, arguably the cornerstone of the Obama presidency, shows how completely detached the Democrat agenda is from the American electorate, and is another reason why Republicans will win back the majority in November,” predicted Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, in a statement.

Steele said health reform was a “government takeover,” which Democrats forced down America’s throat, despite opposition. “Missouri sent a clear message to Democrats and the Obama administration that government-run healthcare is a gross overreach of the federal government that needs to be repealed and replaced,” he continued. “In addition to voter disapproval, lawsuits across the country are moving forward and this week, Virginia earned a major legal victory in its effort to challenge the constitutionality of the government’s individual mandate.”

Missouri Democrats dismissed the vote. “This proposition is a meaningless and unconstitutional political ploy by those who want to go back to the days when insurance companies could deny coverage for families with preexisting conditions and charge exorbitant premiums,” said Ryan Hobart, spokesman for the Missouri Democratic Party in a statement e-mailed to the AFRO. “The proposition will have no legal impact, which is why the Democratic Party’s focus this fall will be on electing Democratic candidates who share our vision of turning around this economy not engaging in pointless political games.”

Robert Smith, professor of political science at San Francisco State University, said given the increasing support for Obama’s health care reform – and better understanding of the legislation – the Missouri vote and health care reform in general will not have the impact Republicans claim.

“It will be a wash in the November elections,” he said of health care’s impact. “The elections will be largely about the employment rate and the economy.”


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO