Brett Narloch, Bismarck
It's not a secret that the 2010 election was about one issue: Obamacare. That was the catalyst behind the dozens of tea parties that spontaneously popped up across North Dakota. Thousands of citizens, many of whom had never participated in a political rally before, voiced their opposition to the federal government's radical new approach to health care policy.
Congressman Rick Berg seized upon this concern and defeated an 18-year incumbent, who voted for Obamacare.
Clearly, North Dakotans do not like it.
North Dakotans may get an opportunity to vote on Obamacare themselves. If the North Dakota Legislature puts a state constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot, North Dakotans would be able to legally and legitimately eliminate the individual health insurance mandate. It's a very exciting thought. Arizona and Oklahoma have already passed their own amendments.
Very simply, the Health Care Freedom Act would amend the North Dakota Constitution to protect each individual's right to participate in whichever health care system they choose or if they want to participate in any system at all.
Yes, the features of Obamacare if the U.S. Supreme Court says it is the law of the land that some North Dakotans may like would still be available to them. But this ensures that those who do not wish to participate in it do not have to.
But for those of us who believe it is a dramatic overreach by the federal government, there is a remedy. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem joined the Florida case with a group of other states who declared the health insurance mandate to be unconstitutional. But in order for him to continue to have standing in that case, some experts say that North Dakota may have to pass the Health Care Freedom Act.
Giving North Dakotans the opportunity to keep health care policy a state issue, the ability to make their own decisions about their health care, and general health care freedom require North Dakota to pass the Health Care Freedom Act.
If only the Legislature puts it on the ballot.
(Narloch is executive director of the North Dakota Policy Council.)