Tennessee has put forth yet another measure to outlaw the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the state. This one not only bars the state from setting up an exchange, it also bars government agencies, and possibly their contractors, from providing health insurance to their workers through healthcare.gov. In fact, it would make it illegal for the university system, local and county governments, and any other public agency to participate in the ACA in any way.
What’s in this particular bill?
Section 3, paragraph D says:
“A health insurance contract purchased or established in violation of this section shall be void and shall not be enforced by the courts of the state.” [SOURCE]
What, exactly, does this mean? It’s confusing even in the context of the rest of the bill. Section 3 describes the health care exchanges and spells out which agencies are not allowed to create their own exchanges or use healthcare.gov for anything. It also spells out, clearly, that they are not allowed to participate in the ACA, period. But that last section doesn’t quite fit in. In fact, it appears to leave the 36,000 people who’ve already bought insurance through the ACA in limbo.
Now, Section 2, paragraph A says:
“No powers, assets, employees, agents, or contractors of the state, including any institution under the control of the University of Tennessee or the Tennessee board of regents, or any political subdivision, municipality, or other local government entity shall be used to assist in implementing the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, or any subsequent federal amendment to such act.”
When put together with Section 3, paragraph D, it’s not clear what will happen to those 36,000 people. Also, the vague language makes it sound like either people with ACA plans, or public hospitals, or both, could be punished for daring to participate in the ACA.
The bill’s sponsor, like other Republicans, sees the Affordable Care Act as a gross government overreach.
The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Mae Beavers, said that the federal government obviously wants total control over health insurance. She, like others in the GOP, think that the Affordable Care Act violates both the 10th Amendment and Section 1 of the Constitution. South Carolina and Georgia are also trying to outlaw the Affordable Care Act. It’s like she sees Tennessee standing in solidarity with everyone who disagrees with the new healthcare law.
Unfortunately, Tennessee’s effort will likely face serious legal problems. Beavers, and others, think they’re on solid legal ground this time. However, the courts have struck down nullification efforts many times over. And Tennessee’s governor said that he hasn’t reviewed the bill yet, so he doesn’t know the impact it’s likely to have. It’s doubtful that this effort will succeed any more than any other efforts have.