Springfield, MO

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No. 3: Health care reform alters political landscape

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Eight months after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed by President Obama in March, the political fallout became clear: Democrats lost six seats to Republicans in the Senate; 63 in the House. In Missouri, voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition C, which prohibits the government from requiring people to have health insurance or from penalizing them from paying for their own health care.

The measure was seen as largely symbolic when it passed in August because federal laws generally trump state laws, but the issue has received new attention since a challenge to the reform law was successful in federal court in December.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, a Republican appointee, ruled that the individual mandate – the requirement of citizens to have coverage or face a penalty – exceeded the constitutional boundaries of congressional power. At issue is whether the Congressional authority to regulate interstate commerce can extend to individual mandates on health insurance.

The suit was the first successful challenge to the PPACA. The Justice Department has argued that health insurance is a unique commercial product because all citizens require health care at some point.

The individual mandate provision is thought to be a key component of the law because it helps to broaden the risk pool. Experts say that other aspects of the reforms, such as banning insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more to people with pre-existing conditions, cannot stand without the individual mandates.

Springfield Business Journal reported in October that a telephone poll of 800 likely general-election voters in Missouri found that attitudes toward health care reform were more positive when specifics of the law were understood.

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