Health Care Referendum Passes Committee

Mary Wilson
Essential Public Radio

Pennsylvanians could see a referendum by next year’s primary to opt out of the federal health care mandate.

The legislation, which passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee along party lines, would amend the state constitution to block any penalties to those who do not purchase health care insurance, as required by the federal Affordable Care Act.

The bill’s sponsor Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson County) said he’s not trying to debate “Obamacare.”

“What this is really about is giving Pennsylvanians the ability to go to the polls and vote how they feel about being mandated by the federal government on this issue.”

Constitutional amendments must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions, signed by the governor, and then be okayed by the voters.

Scarnati said his amendment attempt doesn’t have the ability to change the health care mandate, but it’s timely to move it now.

“I think that will be a very clear, clear message to the administration, to Congress, and to the courts — that these states have taken this initiative.”

The U-S Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in a sweeping challenge to the federal health care law by 26-states, among them, Pennsylvania. The mandate is scheduled to go into effect in 2014.

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