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The Suburbanite
  • State can't sidestep federal law

  • What about the Health Care Freedom Amendment? Last year’s addition to the state Constitution doesn’t trump the federal law on health care or the Supreme Court’s decision.

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  • A state amendment passed last year in response to the Affordable Care Act doesn’t trump the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the federal law is constitutional.
    The Health Care Freedom Amendment, passed 2-1 by voters in November, remains part of the Ohio Constitution, and still prohibits the state Legislature or a future governor from enacting a system, such as the one in Massachusetts, that mandates participation in a health care system, said Attorney General Mike DeWine.
    But that’s where the amendment’s authority ends.
    “It does not, and it never did, override a federal law,” DeWine said.
    Nor does the amendment exempt Ohio from the Supreme Court’s decision.
    That’s because, in areas over which Congress has authority to legislate, federal law takes precedent over state law, DeWine said.
    Ohio and other state’s challenged the Affordable Care Act on the grounds that Congress didn’t have the power to pass it; they lost.
    “I don’t agree with the decision, and I’m sure many people don’t agree with the decision, but we have to abide by the decision,” DeWine said.
    That’s not to say all of the court challenges are over.
    Ohio is still part of a lawsuit, along with six other states and several Catholic groups and individuals, that says Americans with religious objections shouldn’t be required under the health-care law to pay for coverage of abortifacients, birth control and sterilization.
    The lawsuit is unlikely to result in knocking out the entire law, but the challenge could overturn the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law, “and that’s what our goal is,” DeWine said.