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· September 1, 2011

Bad Medicine: Unintended Consequences of Issue 3

In November, Ohioans will vote on a ballot initiative – Issue 3, better known as the “Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment” – that would amend the state Constitution to prohibit the imposition of a requirement that all individuals in the state purchase health insurance. The ballot issue is aimed at eliminating the so-called “individual mandate” to purchase health insurance contained in the recently enacted federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to by its opponents as “Obamacare.” While most legal scholars believe that passage of Issue 3 in Ohio will have no legal effect on the implementation of the ACA in Ohio, Innovation Ohio and professors Maxwell Mehlman and Jessie Hill of the Case Western Reserve University School of Law have found that the language of the constitutional amendment is so carelessly worded and ambiguous that its passage would threaten a wide range of already existing health programs, practices and policies in Ohio. Few Ohioans seem to have actually read the full text of Issue 3.  But because adding an amendment to the constitution of our state is so important, we have analyzed the language, with an eye toward assessing its potential impact on existing law, policy and practice. This report is the result of that analysis. Read the report. Read the press release. The full text of Issue 3 can be found at the end of our report and on the Ballot Board website, buried within a copy of the certified petition filed in April, 2010.

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