Voters Split on Ballot Measures to Reject Federal Health Care Reform

Voters in Arizona and Oklahoma had the chance – and took it - to reject one of the main provisions of the federal health reform bill, requiring health insurance or facing a tax penalty beginning in 2014. The vote was not close in either state – 55 percent of voters in Arizona rejected the individual mandate to purchase health insurance and a whopping 64 percent in Oklahoma did the same.

But in Colorado, the voters defeated a similar provision by a six percentage point margin.

Yesterday’s split vote is consistent with national polling that shows Americans say they are against the federal health reform bill and favor repeal. However, monthly tracking polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation also shows that majorities support certain provisions of the reform, including closing the “donut hole” for seniors, allowing families to maintain coverage for dependents up to age 26 and the prohibitions against pre-existing conditions, annual and lifetime limits.

Despite the appearance of these measures on the ballot, as well as a ballot measure approved by Missouri voters in August and similar laws passed earlier this year in Georgia, Virginia, Louisiana and Idaho, most analysts don’t believe these measures would invalidate the requirements of the federal health reform law passed by Congress in March.

The impact of these ballot measures will be on the political process that will play out in Congress.The new Republican majority in the U.S. House has pledged to repeal the bill or at least to prevent its full implementation. The successful ballot measures in Arizona, Oklahoma and Missouri will be cited by repeal proponents in the debates to come.