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Voter-Approved State Measure Conflicts with Affordable Care Act


A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the part of a 2010 voter-approved measure is unenforceable because it conflicts with the federal Affordable Care Act. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

That measure said people cannot be forced to buy health insurance and they cannot be forced to pay a fine for refusing. However, that’s exactly what the federal Affordable Care Act says: Buy coverage or pay up.

So, the Goldwater Institute sued on behalf of two Arizonans. But, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals pointed out the U.S. Supreme Court found the federal law constitutional. And, that means it trumps what Arizona voters approved. The judges also rejected a separate challenge to the individual mandate based on the claim that it violates the medical privacy of people in that it forces them spend money on insurance they don’t want. The judges said individuals are free not to buy insurance. But, they rejected the argument that a fine for exercising that right infringes on some basic freedom. Goldwater Institute attorney Christina Sandefur called it a “dangerous way to look at things.”

“What about a tax on an abortion? The court could say, well, look, you can still get an abortion, you just have to pay the tax to be able to do so. And, we’re not forcing you, we’re not stopping you from getting an abortion,” Sandefur said.

Sandefur said her organization is weighing its options for an appeal.

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