Tennessee Tea Party takes another stab at killing parts of national health care reform law

Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 9:05pm
RamseyMain.jpg
Ron Ramsey 

Tea Party activists have unleashed a new weapon in Tennessee in their fight against the national health care reform law. It’s part of their broader death-by-a-thousand-cuts strategy that stretches from Congress to state legislatures to the courts. 

The law’s foes focused last year on pre-empting the federal overhaul with their so-called Health Freedom Act, a measure of suspect constitutionality. This time, they are pushing legislation to create an interstate compact to supplant Medicaid, Medicare and all other federal health care programs. Under this bill, states in the compact would run the programs as they see fit with their shares of federal money — $16 billion in Tennessee’s case. 

“Other states are joining us in this effort,” said Senate Judiciary Committee chair Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, the bill’s sponsor. “An interstate health care compact is a powerful vehicle for states to confront the federal health care law.” 

Beavers said her bill “essentially provides a permanent waiver for each member state to create whatever health care regulations the legislature deems best for the citizens of that state.” 

She envisions “a secure funding stream and maximum flexibility for state legislators” that “will create the conditions for multiple solutions to emerge to the health care crisis.”

“We’re going to look for solutions outside the box,” said Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, another friend of the Tea Party. “This is the way of allowing the states to be those laboratories to figure out the best way to provide those services and not have them pushed down by the federal government on the states.” 

Sound too good to be true? Even some supporters concede it most likely is. Leaving aside the ability of the states to manage such mammoth programs, it would take congressional approval, and even a Republican-dominated Congress might think hard about surrendering billions of dollars in federal money to the states with no strings attached. 

Tami Kilmarx, president of the Tennessee Tea Party, compared the bill to the failed Republican attempt to repeal health care reform in Congress this year.

“It may be pie in the sky in a lot of ways,” Kilmarx said. “But we’re using everything at our disposal to push back against federal government. This may fail. It may not. The repeal has obviously failed.” 

Last session’s Health Freedom Act purported to junk the national health care law. In a formal opinion, Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper pointed out that the measure likely was invalid because federal laws supersede state laws under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. 

Still, the state House and Senate each passed a version of the legislation. They couldn’t reconcile the differences so neither bill became law. That was mainly because of political squabbling between the two champions — Sen. Beavers and then-Rep. Susan Lynn, another Mt. Juliet Republican who ran against Beavers in last year’s elections and lost. 

Conservatives are preparing to push the Health Freedom Act again this session, although even Ramsey acknowledged it’s mostly about sending a symbolic message against an overreaching federal government.

“The Health Freedom Act is important because it makes a statement at least that we’re just not going to roll over in the state of Tennessee,” Ramsey said.

More realistically, conservatives will try this session to punish Cooper for refusing to join a lawsuit by numerous states challenging the constitutionality of the health care law. A resolution would amend the state constitution to require the popular election of the attorney general, who now is appointed by the state Supreme Court. 

Cooper, a Democrat, said there was no point in spending the state’s money on the lawsuit when other states were doing the job. But that explanation didn’t satisfy Republicans in the legislature. 

“We will have a bill here in the state Senate and the state House to allow our attorney general to be elected,” Ramsey said. “The attorney general is answerable to no one. We’ve asked him on several occasions to join in this lawsuit, and he just refuses to do that. I think the time has come to elect our attorney general in Tennessee.”

In the lawsuits challenging health care reform, the score is now tied, with two federal judges deciding in favor of the law and two ruling that the individual health insurance mandate exceeds congressional authority under the Commerce Clause.

“It’s horrible to use the Commerce Clause to assert federal will against the individual,” Kilmarx said. “If I want to purchase health insurance, it’s my choice. It’s my choice to be insured or not insured. I happen to be insured. I work. I don’t think there ought to be a mandate coming down from on high that we have to sink this state and the citizens in debt over this.” 

Gov. Bill Haslam joined Republican governors in a letter asking President Obama to expedite the process for the case to reach the United States Supreme Court as soon as possible. 

“Beyond the merits of this issue …” Haslam wrote, “our people deserve to know the future of how their state governments will be structured, how their wallets will be affected, and how their choices in health care will be determined.”  

24 Comments on this post:

By: Jeremiah_29-7 on 2/14/11 at 8:26

Congress passes socialized medicine and mandates health insurance - - - in 1798 !!!
What does this say about the view of the Founders??

http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/01/17/congress-passes-socialized-medicine-and-mandates-health-insurance-in-1798/

By: nourider on 2/14/11 at 9:22

“It’s horrible to use the Commerce Clause to assert federal will against the individual,”

Then explain federal drug laws. You can't have it both ways.

And, what is so wrong about providing health care? The only reason I see for resistance to this is that someone somewhere is making large money on keeping things the way they are.

By: frodo on 2/14/11 at 9:23

Jeff Woods feels free to editorialize, calling one conservative effort "their so-called Health Freedom Act, a measure of suspect constitutionality." He cites no source on that...perhaps Chris Matthews or Nina Totenberg. But he fails to jump to an editorial conclusion on Obamacare, which one federal judge and many states attorney's have already declared unconstitutional. There is an attempt at fair reporting, but the prize slips from the reporters left hand.

By: onetwothree on 2/14/11 at 9:38

True, Ms. Kilmarx, you may choose to not be insured if you want.

However, the rest of us would like to be able to choose to not pay for you. Therefore, should you choose to be uninsured, I hope you will be the first to sign a pledge to not use the emergency rooms of our hospitals, or any other health care services that are sustained by the pooled resources of the rest of us. I'm going to pretty frustrated if my health care premiums go up b/c hospitals can only recover 10% of what you actually owe them. Actually, I'm going to be frustrated anyway b/c my premiums most certainly won't be going down as long as you are exerting your right to get something for nothing, while the rest of us are paying the bills.

Note that you cannot choose whether or not to pay into Social Security or Medicare. I hope your next targets are these entitlements, and that you lead the way on the "pay in if you want to" platform. It'll be interesting to see how that works out for you.

By: revo-lou on 2/14/11 at 9:42

Roll teanuts, roll.

By: jammer on 2/14/11 at 10:06

Wow, it's amazing how liberals will take anything out of context to support their agenda. Let's set the record straight, Jeremiah: ObamaCare is unprecedented. Period. Since you're so fond of quoting blogs, here's another one for you to read. It clearly corrects your argument:

http://topconservativeblogs.com/2010/04/02/an-act-for-the-relief-of-sick-and-disabled-seamen/

"This 1798 statute (5 Cong. Ch. 77, July 16, 1798, 1 Stat. 605) is currently making the blogospheric rounds as purported proof that the 2010 congressional mandate to purchase health insurance from a private company is based on long-established practice. Incorrect. Sections 1 and 2 of the act impose a 20 cent per month tax on seamen’s wages, to be withheld by the employer. Section 3 requires that all the withheld taxes be turned over to the U.S. Treasury on a quarterly basis, and that the revenue shall be expended in the district where it was collected. The revenue shall be spent to support sick and injured seamen. So the Act is totally dissimilar to the Obamacare mandate. In the 1798 Act, the government imposes a tax, collects all the tax revenue, and spends the revenue as it chooses. This is a good precedent for programs in which the government imposes a tax and then spends the money on medical programs (e.g., Medicare), but it has nothing to do with mandating that individuals purchase a private product."

By: revo-lou on 2/14/11 at 10:24

So, jammer, you have no problem with a tax, but you don't want to pay for insurance as a tax? Is there really a difference? Oh, yes, I forgot, you just don't like it.

By: SargeE5 on 2/14/11 at 10:42

Am I the only one keeping an eye on the news. Aren't any of you aware that the Obama Care Bill was deemed to be UNCONSTITUTIONAL? Am I the only one would read Federal Court Judge Vinson's declaration that due to the section that forces American citizens to purchase insurance, which is illegal and unconstitutional, then the entire Bill is null and void, as the money appropriations from the forced insurance sales was to actually be the funding for it's implementation.
Bottom line here is this, the President and the congress and private insurance and medical institutions are in direct violation of a federal ruling if they are implementing any portion or all of the Obama Care program(s).
In my opinion, it is Attorney General Eric Holder who is obligated to enforce the judge's ruling, and immediately cease and desist any and all implementation of Obama Care. If he does not, then Attorney General Eric Holder is also in direct contempt of Judge Vinson's order. He is also derelict in the duties of his office as is the President. The oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States means that even the government and it's officials must obey the laws, until the law is appealed, and repealed or said ruling is overturned by the highest court.
Going after the law itself, is futile, as it is already illegal and unconstitutional. To accomplish anything, We The People should be going after those who are bound by their office to uphold Judge Vinson's ruling. Direct violations, usurpations and flagrant misuse of the Constitution are grounds for impeachment. My question, is why hasn't that proceeding already been put forth?

By: localboy on 2/14/11 at 10:51

Could it be that Judge Vinson's ruling has yet to find a consensus among jurists? Until the Supreme Court issues a verdict, this issue will not be decided.

By: pswindle on 2/14/11 at 10:56

We now have a state senate that that does not understand the law or anything else. Mae Beavaers wants the Federal Gov't to send all of this money to TN for healthcare, but she wants the ability to spend it as she sees fit. She wants the states to have the rights without a watachdog of how the money is spent. I want to know where these people are coming from. This shows how dumb we are becoming. Do we not have to buy car insurance? The Governor and on down the ladder does not have a clue in running a government. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Surely, there are better people out there that can take a leadership roll in our state, and know what to do.

By: revo-lou on 2/14/11 at 11:07

{SargeE5 on 2/14/11 at 9:42
Going after the law itself, is futile, as it is already illegal and unconstitutional. To accomplish anything, We The People should be going after those who are bound by their office to uphold Judge Vinson's ruling. Direct violations, usurpations and flagrant misuse of the Constitution are grounds for impeachment. My question, is why hasn't that proceeding already been put forth?}

Where did you get your law degree, teanut?

By: gdiafante on 2/14/11 at 11:41

Much ado about nothing. The USSC will decide, everything else is white noise.

The main issue is action versus inaction. Meaning, does Congress have the right to regulate inaction. Should be an interesting ruling.

By: Jim Pierce on 2/14/11 at 12:49

I may be off somwhere on left base but if we are severely attacked and Obama declares martial law, can't he dictate whatever he wants and declare all of his mandates and programs the law of the land? Arn't we in danger of this possibility? Just a thought...

By: JaiboiTV on 2/14/11 at 2:27

If there is one thing that I would not with is paying a portion of my hard earned dollars to support in this country's healthcare programs. Being the nation that we are and representing the best in the world, I think it's definitely a plus for our citizens to get the best in healthcare. There has to be a balance somewhere and we represent the best that healthcare can provide. I would at least provide free healthcare for our elderly and non-adult citizens who cannot afford it. In addition, we should work diligently to reign in the cost of healthcare from reducing/preventing malpractice suits, lowering cost of medication, promote the use of less expensive erbal and natural medications, reduce tuition for medical students, and invest more in medical research.
By supporting healthcare we send a statement to other nations and to all of our citizens that we are taking the lead. Yes, I agree that there are no easy solutions. We are suffering from being too divided as Americans. Greed is another illness that has really done major damage. I believe that if we come together to implement an cohesive resolution, then we can repair many other crisis our nation is facing. Resist throwing out negative comments, and try to be more cooperative in the exchange of what we can do so that each of us can be proud.

By: JaiboiTV on 2/14/11 at 2:29

pls excuse me typos... I meant to say that "...I would not mind paying a portion of my hard earned dollars" ...lol ... I can't afford to pay an editor...

By: gdiafante on 2/14/11 at 3:51

"I may be off somwhere on left base but if we are severely attacked and Obama declares martial law, can't he dictate whatever he wants and declare all of his mandates and programs the law of the land? Arn't we in danger of this possibility? Just a thought..."

Wow

Why not say that the attack is from Martians? Or that pressed wood suddenly develops consciousness and creates an elaborate communication network with other wood and then organizes a rebellion, causing Obama to institute martial law, resulting in a mandate of all his programs.

Yeah, pretty freakin' stupid.

By: govskeptic on 2/14/11 at 5:14

The tea party can only make their wishes know to legislators just like
the Hospitals and Doctors make their's know. No elected reps have
the designation of Tea Party or asile in the House. Why is the press
making it the leader of these abolish moves when many reps of both
parties are beginning to join in that voice?

By: wayneCaluger on 2/14/11 at 8:15

First, it's not about choosing or not choosing to buy health insurance rather it's about the Affordable Health Care Act that does zero to make it affordable. There is no cap on what insurance companies can charge you once that cannot no longer deny you coverage based on preexisting conditions in 2014. Currently, like my spouse, insurance companies can reject your application based on taking two maintenance drugs even though there is no medical history of any medical problems. On the contrary my spouses heart scan showed no plague and a heart of a 30 year old.

Had she not had taken any maintenance drugs there was a very likely over time she would have developed heath conditions. Keep in mind the rejection was a $5,000 HSA major medical with no drug coverage. What that means in 2014 minimal items like taking two maintenance will be used by underwriters to jack what would have been today a $475 monthly premium to lets say $875 a month. Now if you cannot afford $875 in monthly premiums it's cheaper to pay the $1,500 yearly fine enforced by the IRS.

If you can afford $875 a month for a $5,000 HSA major medical with no drug coverage you now fall under the Cadillac Health Insurance provision subjecting you to an additional 40% tax. So if you could have afforded $10,400 in yearly premiums most likely after an additional $4,200 in taxes ($14,700 premium plus tax) the $1,500 fine is a crop in the bucket.

So what we solved in the health crisis? The fines help offset the cost of bill and for those with even the slightest health issues who can afford health coverage the government gets another $4,200 from taxes.

This bill is all about giving the insurance companies the right to hold a gun to our back to force us to pay them whatever they want and they government being able to extract $1,500 if we don't or $4,200 if we do. There is nothing in the bill that makes health care affordable!

Now if you fall in the federal poverty guidelines making under $17,000 you should qualify for Medicaid/TennCare coverage, but we all know where that is going with cuts year after year in that program. Basically you are screwed when it comes to medical insurance. The winners are the insurance companies and federal government and the losers are taxpayers including those who cannot afford insurance.

I'm not sure what can be constitutional regarding forcing people to buy something they cannot afford from a non government identity at whatever rate they choose to charge then fine that person for not buying something they cannot afford taxing those who can afford to pay outlandish uncontrolled rates. Whats next? Force you to buy what else regardless of the fact you can afford it.

No sane person who wants to keep their home or other belongings is not going to purchase health insurance if it is affordable. People loss everything they own and file bankruptcy daily due to being uninsured and generally not by choice.
are

By: wayneCaluger on 2/14/11 at 8:15

First, it's not about choosing or not choosing to buy health insurance rather it's about the Affordable Health Care Act that does zero to make it affordable. There is no cap on what insurance companies can charge you once that cannot no longer deny you coverage based on preexisting conditions in 2014. Currently, like my spouse, insurance companies can reject your application based on taking two maintenance drugs even though there is no medical history of any medical problems. On the contrary my spouses heart scan showed no plague and a heart of a 30 year old.

Had she not had taken any maintenance drugs there was a very likely over time she would have developed heath conditions. Keep in mind the rejection was a $5,000 HSA major medical with no drug coverage. What that means in 2014 minimal items like taking two maintenance will be used by underwriters to jack what would have been today a $475 monthly premium to lets say $875 a month. Now if you cannot afford $875 in monthly premiums it's cheaper to pay the $1,500 yearly fine enforced by the IRS.

If you can afford $875 a month for a $5,000 HSA major medical with no drug coverage you now fall under the Cadillac Health Insurance provision subjecting you to an additional 40% tax. So if you could have afforded $10,400 in yearly premiums most likely after an additional $4,200 in taxes ($14,700 premium plus tax) the $1,500 fine is a crop in the bucket.

So what we solved in the health crisis? The fines help offset the cost of bill and for those with even the slightest health issues who can afford health coverage the government gets another $4,200 from taxes.

This bill is all about giving the insurance companies the right to hold a gun to our back to force us to pay them whatever they want and they government being able to extract $1,500 if we don't or $4,200 if we do. There is nothing in the bill that makes health care affordable!

Now if you fall in the federal poverty guidelines making under $17,000 you should qualify for Medicaid/TennCare coverage, but we all know where that is going with cuts year after year in that program. Basically you are screwed when it comes to medical insurance. The winners are the insurance companies and federal government and the losers are taxpayers including those who cannot afford insurance.

I'm not sure what can be constitutional regarding forcing people to buy something they cannot afford from a non government identity at whatever rate they choose to charge then fine that person for not buying something they cannot afford taxing those who can afford to pay outlandish uncontrolled rates. Whats next? Force you to buy what else regardless of the fact you can afford it.

No sane person who wants to keep their home or other belongings is not going to purchase health insurance if it is affordable. People loss everything they own and file bankruptcy daily due to being uninsured and generally not by choice.
are

By: wayneCaluger on 2/14/11 at 8:40

A quick side not for those who think for a minute the insurance companies were the primary pushers of Health Care Reform. The bill was crafted by law firms as all laws are, that represents insurance companies. These politicians don't have the time or brains to write laws, laws are written for them all they do is sponsor/introduce bills that become law. They only thing politicians care about is what self serving vote getting pork barrel items they can stick into the bill.

Then you have groups like AARP backing bills like health care reform, a wolf in sheep clothing making it appear it's all about people over 50 (NO LONGER FOR just RETIRED PEOPLE) and we all should back passing the bill because it's a good thing for everyone? Well it was good for the AARP and insurance companies.

American Association of Retired Persons, collects hundreds of millions of dollars annually from insurers who pay for AARP's endorsement of their policies.During the past decade, royalties and fees have made up an increasing percentage of AARP's income, rising to 43 percent of its $1.17 billion in revenue in 2007 from 11 percent in 1999, according to AARP data.

In addition, AARP holds clients' insurance premiums for as long as a month and invests the money, which added $40.4 million to its revenue in 2007.

AARP's mission to help seniors has been compromised by its reliance on royalties and fees, says Marilyn Moon, who was director of AARP's Public Policy Institute from 1986 through 1989.

In a nut shell it was all about fating insurance comoines, non-profit really for profit insureance brokers like AARP and setting a way for the federal government to falsely reduce the deficit by fining people who can afford to buy insurance and tax by 40% people who can and forcing employers to reduce coverage and raise employee premiums by eliminating employer health benefit tax credits in order to pay for a crock of hockey bill.

My son-in-law employer who employs tens of thousands of people nationwide changed their employee/family coverage to a $5,000 per family member deductible and no drug coverage effective 1-1-2011.

Yep, they made health care more affordable and it's only going to get worse the closer we get to 2014 if this is allowed to stand.

By: pswindle on 2/15/11 at 9:29

You want the money to spend as you please. Mae Beavers, get your head out of the clouds. I wouold not want you to manage the money, the people would not get any healthcare .

By: joe41 on 2/15/11 at 11:29

It is not your right to be uninsured and then tax me to help pay for your visit to the emergency room. That is exactly what some people do and you should be able to see that.
Joe

By: wayneCaluger on 2/15/11 at 1:44

By: JaiboiTV on 2/14/11 at 1:27. By supporting healthcare we send a statement to other nations and to all of our citizens that we are taking the lead. Yes, I agree that there are no easy solutions. We are suffering from being too divided as Americans. Greed is another illness that has really done major damage.

And how is the current health care reform bill going to accomplish this? So far it's helped make it less affordable and as employers back off on what they will pay for employee coverage employee's like my son-in-law end up paying more for far less coverage. The greed here is the insurance companies. When was the last time a major heath insurance company went bankrupt or needed a bail out--never. They have the tallest buildings while going about cherry picking and coming up with ways to deny paying claims.

By: JaiboiTV on 2/14/11 at 1:27. We should work diligently to reign in the cost of healthcare from reducing/preventing malpractice suits,

Tort reform only helps insurance companies, hospitals and doctors with none of that going towards reducing health care cost. What we need first is strict enforcement of laws and regulations. Case in point, the State board finally revokes a well know physician licensee after repeatably showing up drunk and often to drunk to preform surgeries. They then re-instate their old buddy license and he then gets busted for dispensing drugs.

Money is all insurance companies and hospitals understand and the threat of that is what got the doctor suspended. We already have judicial tort reform! No matter what a jury awards the judge has the power to substantially reduce the jury award as does the court of appeals. What makes the headlines is what the jury awards while the final result is often not reported or buried on the back pages. So how much should a wrongful death by a drunk physician be worth?

By: JaiboiTV on 2/14/11 at 1:27. lowering cost of medication: Well congress traded that away by extending the time a generic can become a generic by an additional 7 years. So the drug that did cost me $200 a year in co-pay's in 2008 went to $364 in 2009 and $468 in 2010. When and if the drug is allowed to become available it will cost me $28 a year, a little less than what you can buy it for in Canada, Mexico and other parts of the world.

By: JaiboiTV on 2/14/11 at 1:27. By supporting healthcare we send a statement to other nations and to all of our citizens that we are taking the lead. Yep, you can get a lot more for your drugs here in the US than anywhere else in the world for about 14 years now. Yep, as a physican do as the fellow who took my physicans place when they forced him into retirement (was spending to much time with patients and was failing to meet his quote) move down from Canada to the US where you will make a lot more money.

Our Health care system needs reforming not deforming bending it even more to where the insurance companies have even more control. They keep claiming the cost of health care based on the claims is rising justifying rate increases as high as 30%. What they are not telling you is, the amount they have contracted to pay health providers (hospitals and doctors) has increased very little.

If health providers balk at recontacting for that amount the big boys kick them out of their network putting a even bigger financial hurt by costing them 20-30% of their patients/business who must now choose another doctor and/or hospital.

There are ways to fix or at least improve the quality of health care, but to do that politicians must be willing to bite the hands that feed them re-election money the health care PAC's.

By: justice2003 on 2/16/11 at 11:40

Did you know that? the score in the Health Freadom Act is not tied. Just use me for an example!. What establishment has the nevers to represent me, violate thier own policies and procedures and still thinking that there getting away with it today.I have to admitt it, i I have never voted a day in my life and i may have gone down some bad and dangerous roads in my life.but,it doesn't give my insurance provider the right to pay them,witch is why tennesseans are suffering today .we are nothing but little sheep to our so-called leaders who are surpose to be sheaperds.Tennessee needs to focus on letting people like myself share what happened to me in the year 2003 when i called the attorney General personally concerning these issues after i checked in Vanderbilt and how it was dismissed .my insurance carrier played a sanificaite role in this because dates were showing up on days i was never there and my insurance carrier paid them anyway. I surport mrs beavers tea party movemente and for all it stands for. please,don't let our legeslative board decide who are using tax payers money for political gain you'll be giving them just what they want.16,000,000,000 i going to be giving them 2-19-104 3-19-104 and 2-19-105 3-19-105 in the tennessee supreme court ruleing.oath!