Missouri voters take aim at new health care law

Missouri voters on Tuesday easily approved a measure aimed at nullifying the new federal health care law, becoming the first state in the nation where ordinary people made known their dismay over the issue at the ballot box, according to a story in the New York Times.

The measure was intended to invalidate a crucial element of President Obama’s health care law — namely, that most people be required to get health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

Supporters of the measure said it would send a firm signal to Washington about how this state, often a bellwether in presidential elections, felt about such a law.

“My constituents told me they felt like their voices had been ignored and they wanted Washington to hear them,” Jane Cunningham, a state senator and Republican who had pressed for a vote, said Tuesday night. “It looks to me like they just picked up a megaphone.”

The referendum, known as Proposition C, was seen as a first look at efforts by conservatives to gather and rally their forces over the issue. In the end, though, the referendum seemed not to capture the general population’s attention. Instead, Republican primary voters (who had the most competitive races on Tuesday) appeared to play a crucial role in the vote’s fate.

Practically speaking, it remains entirely uncertain what effect the vote will have. The insurance requirement of the federal health care law does not come into effect until 2014. By then, experts say, the courts are likely to weigh in on the provision requiring people to buy insurance.

“While we’re disappointed that Missourians didn’t vote against this, we think the courts will ultimately decide it,” said David M. Dillon, a spokesman for the Missouri Hospital Association.

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