Critics Worry Issue 3 Might Affect Existing Health Insurance Laws

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There are some mandates in state law that require people buy health insurance – for example, those who have been ordered to pay child support and those who receive it. That comes from a law passed in 2007. But Jeff Longstreth with Ohioans for Health Care Freedom, which is pushing the Issue 3 amendment, says if it passes, that law will stay.

“Well, that’s the great thing about drafting a very simple, very easy to read amendment. It says right in the ballot language, and this is an exact quote – ‘it will affect no laws or rules that were in effect as of March 19, 2010’,” he said.

But an advocate for universal health care said that amendment isn’t quite as simple as its backers say it is.

“This appears to just have Ohio opt out of federal health care reform. It is much broader than that.”

Cathy Levine is with the Universal Health Care Network Ohio and she said the amendment is so broadly written that insurance experts she’s working with are still trying to analyze it.

“I think it could have a lot of unintended consequences and tie the hands of the state from doing any regulation or licensing of health care. It could prohibit the state from regulating medical licenses or regulating any other kind of health care.”

But Longstreth said the coalition of Tea Party activists and conservatives who are supporting the amendment say it’s narrowly focused.

“We’re only focused on Issue 3 and we hope that people will vote yes on Issue 3. I’m not a part of any group that’s going to challenge anything further than Issue 3,” Longstreth said.

Longstreth and others have said the amendment is also written to prevent Ohio from creating a Massachusetts-style health care system, but he said the date of March 19, 2010 was included to ensure that the amendment wouldn’t affect Medicare or Medicaid or veterans programs. But Levine said the amendment will be costly for the state – because if it passes, it will almost certainly spark several lawsuits.