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When voters go to the polls in November to vote on one of a handful of proposed constitutional amendments, their vote may not matter.
The Alabama State Legislature approved a proposed constitutional amendment for the ballot in February that, if approved by voters, would prohibit anyone or entity like the Federal Government, from forcing anyone to purchase healthcare or pay a penalty.
"Our voices may be hallowed out by the administration and the Obama folks" said. Rep. Greg Wren (R – Montgomery) who co-sponsored the proposal.
Rep. Wren acknowledged that federal law supersedes state law, and even if voters approve the proposed constitutional amendment, it wouldn't mean anything when it comes to enacting the Affordable Care Act, mainly upheld by the United Supreme Court ten days ago.
In a 5-4 decision with the conservative leaning Chief Justice John Robert voting with the liberal bloc of the court, the Supreme Court upheld the entire law which included the lynchpin "individual mandate." The proposed constitutional amendment specifically targeted that portion from being enforced on Alabama citizens.
Other lawmakers argued that even though the election in November won't carry any legal weight, it could send a sort of message to the legislature and the governor as to how to enact the Affordable Care Act.
"It's going to be a dictate to the policy makers of this state as to whether or not we opt in to the Medicaid provisions of this healthcare law" said Rep. Joe Hubbard, (D – Montgomery).
The governor and the legislature will have to decide by 2014 if they will increase the number of eligible people for Medicaid benefits. There are currently about 950,000 Medicaid clients in Alabama. Expanding the program to coincide with the new federal guideline, which is optional, would increase the number of eligible clients to 1.4 million.
Several other states have amended their state constitutions in attempts to prohibit the Federal Government from forcing individuals to enter the healthcare market. Missouri, Arizona, and Oklahoma are recent examples of voters attempting to override the authority of the Federal Government.
Rep. Wren says the fight isn't over to show Congress and the president that they can't push states around.
"We'll continue the fight" he said.
Copyright 2012 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.