INDIANAPOLIS, January 18, 2014 – Indiana state Rep. Timothy Harman and two co-authors have introduced legislation which would “gut Obamacare” if it passes into law.
House Bill 1406 (HB1406) would make it state law that “an agency, officer, or employee of the state shall not…engage in an activity that aids any person in the enforcement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
The legislation would also ban the state and its political subdivisions from establishing or participating in a health care exchange under the federal act.
While HB1406 only addresses actions of the state does not interfere with any federal agents, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano suggested that doing more wouldn’t be needed. Recognizing the inability of the federal government to enforce the Affordable Care Act without assistance and participation on a state level, Napolitano said doing this in a number of states would “gut Obamacare.”
Similar legislation has already been introduced in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and elsewhere. Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said that this could create a formidable bloc, pulling the rug out from under the already flailing federal act. “If five states pass something like this, they’re going to be paying attention,” he said. “And if ten or fifteen do it? It’s game over for Obamacare.”
Maharrey also noted that the bill was on sound legal footing. “There is no dispute, the states do not have to help the feds carry out their laws or regulatory programs,” he said.
The legal principle behind this statement is the anti-commandeering doctrine, upheld by the supreme court in four major cases from 1842 to 2012. The most famous was the 1997 Printz case where Sheriffs Mack and Printz won a case which held that the states could not be “commandeered” into carrying out federal gun laws.
From the majority opinion, “The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policymaking is involved, and no case-by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.”
HB1406 has been referred to the House Ways and Means committee where it will need to be passed by a majority vote before being considered by the full Indiana House.
Track the status of similar legislation around the country here