Issue 3 gives Ohioans the opportunity to amend Ohio’s constitution. The issue is headlined in such a way, it is almost certain to get a “Yes” vote. (See PDF) The headline says: “Proposed Constitutional Amendment: To Preserve The Freedom Of Ohioans To Choose Their Health Care and Health Care Coverage”
It seems unlikely that Ohioans will vote down the chance to preserve their freedom, but retired Judge William O’Neill warns against a “Yes” vote. O’Neill is a retired judge and says he has a unique perspective because he also has worked as a Registered Nurse. O’Neill writes, “In the name of conservatism, a small segment of the population is now inviting the rest of us to shoot ourselves in the foot under the theory that we must immediately amend the Ohio Constitution. The folly is evident on its face.”
He warns of unexpected consequences of Issue 3 and writes, “History has shown that the amending of our Constitution must be discouraged under all but the most compelling circumstances.”
Judge O’Neill says Issue 3, if passed, will not stop the implementation of the Affordable Health Act, “Obamacare,” because state law cannot overturn federal law. He warns, however, that this change to the constitution may tie the hands of future Ohio Assemblies to pass needed laws. He writes,
The amendment would grandfather in all laws and rules on the books as of the magical date of March 19, 2010. But a lot has happened in America since 2010, and this Amendment attempts to block change in our health care system from this day forward. Not to change or repair past practices, but to block change in the future. I don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future but, unfortunately, our healthcare system may have new or amplified problems in the future. Issue 3 would prevent future lawmakers in Ohio – regardless of party affiliation – from considering a vast amount rationally-based legislation to correct those problems.
Everyone in Ohio knows that health care in America and Ohio has become a big problem from a financial standpoint. We are simply spending too much money for too little coverage, and nowhere is that more evident than in Medicaid. In the 1970s as a nation we made a decision to guarantee high quality medical care to the least fortunate among us; and as a nation we made a decision that this federal act of compassion shall be paid for by the states. And from the beginning the program has been plagued with wildly exploding costs, use and abuse. And today it remains a giant part of every state budget. But, if Issue 3 passes, the Ohio Legislature’s hands will be tied as it will be prevented from attempting to correct the problem. …
Issue 3, if passed, will amend the Ohio Constitution to prevent ALL changes in addressing health care in Ohio… to the detriment of ALL taxpayers. This goes beyond throwing out the baby with the bath water. It even goes beyond shooting oneself in the foot. This is economic suicide in the name of freedom of choice in health care. The question remains. Freedom for whom?
In conclusion, there is no question there is ample room for disagreement on how to rein in health care costs in America and Ohio. And that is why we have legislative bodies. To resolve policy differences. But the Ohio Constitution, in all due respect, does not belong in this particular fight. The stakes are too high. I strongly encourage the citizens of Ohio to vote “NO” on Issue 3