The newly elected conservative majority in the General Assembly is already working to make good on campaign promises to protect North Carolina citizens from federal health care regulation. House Bill 2, titled “Protect Health Care Freedom” sponsored by Representatives Stam (R-Wake), Barnhart (R-Cabarrus), Hollo (R-Alexander), and Murry (R-Wake), was the first item on the legislative agenda. The bill is progressing quickly in the House and will soon see debate on the floor.
House Bill 2 is by no means a repeal of Obamacare, but it would put laws in place to challenge some of the more controversial mandates of the federal health care law. The bill seeks to preserve health care freedom by enacting three specific protections.
First, the bill would protect individuals from being compelled to enroll in any kind of public or private health insurance plan. This means you can make the choice as to whether to purchase insurance or pay directly for medical attention. It allows individuals to make their own assessment of risk and what level of health coverage they need. Young people who choose not to have health coverage, or pay for a limited plan, would not be forced to purchase insurance.
Second, House Bill 2 would protect your relationship with your doctor and your right to pay directly for medical services. This means that individuals who want to pay for treatment out of pocket would continue to be able to do so. Insurance billing is a complex process that can greatly increase the cost of medical care. However, by negotiating directly with one’s doctor and paying by cash or check rather than insurance, people can get a better deal for the same quality of care.
Finally, the bill would waive any taxes, fines, or fees you might incur for choosing to enroll or not enroll in a health care plan. Obamacare includes special taxes on more comprehensive health plans and extra fines and fees on individuals and employers who choose not to purchase plans. This provision would waive those penalties and preserve North Carolinians’ freedom to make decisions about health care.
The two page bill is based on model legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is an organization that seeks to advance economic freedom, free markets, and liberty through partnerships with state legislators.
With the introduction of the Protect Health Care Freedom bill, North Carolina joins a total of 38 states that have used ALEC’s model legislation to challenge parts of federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Civitas Institute polling shows that rejecting the federal mandate to purchase insurance is something North Carolina voters support by more than a 2 to 1 margin. January 2011 results found that when asked if they thought North Carolina should consider “laws to protect the right of patients to pay directly for medical services, and prohibit forcing citizens into participating in a health insurance plan” 63 percent said yes, while only 25 percent said no.
The proposal and likely passage of House Bill 2 is more than just symbolic. Even though Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, refuses to pursue a healthcare lawsuit, passage of this bill would almost certainly force the state to participate in legal challenges to federal health care regulation.
Taylor Holgate is an intern at the Civitas Institute in Raleigh