ST. LOUIS — As 5 p.m. approached and the heat settled in at a steamy 99 degrees, the once-steady flow of voters tricked off to a near-standstill. On the Missouri ballot this hot August day-among the standard, statewide primaries-is Proposition C (Prop C). Also known as Missouri Health Care Freedom, the amendment takes to task key aspects of President Obama’s trillion-dollar plan, signed into law in March.
Among the sporadic, late-afternoon voters were a college student, a family with one small girl, and an older woman. Provisions within the federal Patient Protection and Affordability Act of 2010 (PPACA) could possibly affect each of these individuals’ ability to afford and secure sufficient health insurance. That is as long as state amendments-like Missouri’s Prop C-don’t stand in the way.
Missouri’s Prop C states that “no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system” (for full text of Prop C, click here). This amendment seeks to invalidate provisions within PPACA-provisions that were compromises between liberals and moderates in Congress, after hopes for government-sponsored, Universal Health Care died.
Molly, a college student, reflecting on Prop C says, “I felt it was important for me to vote today because Health Care is such an important topic. Everyone should be united together on it, instead of certain states singling out [their own plans].” Under the PPACA, college students like Molly are granted the option of staying on their parents’ health insurance policy until the age of 26. For Molly, that translates to six more years. (It is not clear that Prop C would have any impact on this particular provision of the PPACA.)
Andrew, a thirty-something, offers a less optimistic view of Obama’s policies, stating, “I am in favor of states taking back some of the rights that the Federal government is infringing upon. Sure, I think Health Care has been mishandled on a number of levels, State and Federal. But it feels like some choices are being taken away from us. I think it would be better to allow Americans to have multiple choices.”
The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Statistics lists Missouri’s official “seasonally adjusted unemployment” at 9.1%–or 544,869 people (based on 2000 Census data). However, this doesn’t account for the number of people whose unemployment benefits have already run out.
Whether for or against Prop C, all responders indicated that they saw Health Care as a significant battleground-a battleground that encompasses issues as complex and diverse as foreign policy, economic provisions, and individual and state rights.
“My husband would be furious,” one older woman from St. Louis County commented, as she left the polls. “We grew up working hard. When things got bad, we leaned on others. They leaned on us too. There were sleepless nights and sparse meals, but we never thought it was government’s job to give us anything.” Preferring her name remain anonymous, she lives modestly on the life-insurance of her husband who passed away a few years ago. She also has Medicare.
The role of big government seemed the overarching issue for many voters. Andrew says, “If you don’t like how laws are going in one state, you can go to another. You have that choice. But if the law is made on the Federal level, nobody has any choice at all.” He walks away with his wife and a small child. If the PPACA is ruled unconstitutional, their daughter may someday have to make a difficult decision regarding Health Care-namely, can she afford to have it?
Then again, if Andrew has his way and Prop C passes, their daughter will at least have a voice in that process–without prescribed governmental dictation and, hopefully, the addition of another trillion dollars in federal debt.
Update: As of 6:00 a.m.. on August 4, Missouri’s Prop C passed by 61% percent, or 95,683 votes.