Oregon State Sen. Brian Boquist has introduced legislation that would make enforcement of President Obama’s health care law a felony in the state, punishable by up to five years in prison for federal employees.
Boquist (R-Dallas) would make enforcement of Obama’s law a misdemeanor, with possible jail time, for state employees. When asked about the chances of the bill’s passage, Boquist admitted he doubts it will gain traction, considering the millions of dollars at stake in Oregon right now and how far along the state is in implementing the law. Still, Boquist said, he hopes to grab attention with the measure.
“There is a list of naysayers that don’t believe this is going to work,” Boquist said.
The proposed law, pushed by the Oregon 10th Amendment Center, looks to nullify the act and declare it unconstitutional. The 10th Amendment Center is pushing for nullification of Obamacare through measures like Boquist’s, in response “to a rebellious federal government that refuses to act within its constitutional limits,” center spokesman Mike Maharrey said.
“It’s time for the states to put a check on illegitimate federal power,” Maharrey said.
Exchange Relies on Federal Funds
Boquist points out that without federal funding, Oregon would be unable to implement its health care reform policies under Obama’s law. Oregon is one of the first states to set up a health care exchange, Cover Oregon, which recently received a $226 million grant over two years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The state also received $1.9 billion in federal tax money over five years to fill a Medicaid budget hole.
After the $226 million federal grant is exhausted, the state’s goal is for the exchange to be self-sustaining through fees on insurance carriers based on enrollment in the system, according to Lisa Morawski, Cover Oregon communications manager. In exchange, Oregon must meet quality of care requirements and slow the growth of its Medicaid program.
Boquist is skeptical the system can carry itself without these federal dollars.
“What self-sustaining program does the government have that actually worked?” he asked.
Boquist said he has little confidence all the promised federal money will come through. He said the state needs a mechanism in place so Oregon is not reliant on handouts from the feds.
“The government remains broke,” he said.
Shelby Sebens ([email protected]) writes for Northwest Watchdog.