Louisiana State Senator A.G. Crowe has authored legislation that seeks to “Prohibit state or local governmental coercion of any Louisiana employer, health care provider, or individual to compel participation in any health care system or health insurance plan.”

The legislation spells out a number of findings that include:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court in Printz v. United States, 117 S.Ct. 2365, 521 U.S. 898, 138 L.Ed.2d 914 (1997), has declared that states cannot be required by the federal government to provide services which are not compensated for by the federal government.
  • Proposed federal mandates would require Louisiana taxpayers to pay for or subsidize all elective abortions and would be in conflict with state law.
  • To coerce individuals to enter into contracts with private companies, particularly health insurers, would go beyond the authority of the Commerce Clause in Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution and, therefore, be unconstitutional.
  • To require the citizens of Louisiana to pay for certain federally mandated services while exempting the taxpayers of certain other states is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
  • The Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Issues regarding health care and health insurance were never delegated.

Louisiana is not the first state to propose such an action. According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, twenty-nine states have either proposed, or announced an intention, to propose similar legislation.

Ultimately, as has been proposed in other states, a constitutional amendment might have to be passed to facilitate implementation of such as law. In Louisiana, two-thirds of the members of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature must either vote to put the issue on a statewide ballot, or call a constitutional convention.

The legal arguments that stem from this legislation will be lively. Clint Bolick, litigation director at the Goldwater Institute, argues that the case is “winnable”, and others, such as Mark A. Hall, a law professor at Wake Forest University, claim that there is “no way this challenge will succeed in court.”

Time will tell whether states have the ability to resist the continuing encroachments of the federal government into health care.