In the primary election held a week ago today, Missouri voters overwhelmingly voted Yes on Proposition C. This should be of interest even for those of you who do not live in Missouri, for as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch stated (or maybe overstated) on August 4, “Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a federal mandate to purchase health insurance, rebuking President Barack Obama's administration and giving Republicans their first political victory in a national campaign to overturn the controversial health care law passed by Congress in March.”
I was firmly opposed to Proposition C, but I expected it to be approved. My guess was that maybe 55% would vote Yes; I was sadly surprised and astounded that the approval vote was slightly over 71%. As most people don’t vote in primary elections, that 71% represents fewer than 16% of the registered voters in Missouri (based on 2008 figures). But it also means that fewer than 6.5% of Missouri voters expressed support of a key provision of the healthcare plan passed by the U.S. Congress.
As the news media have correctly pointed out, the Missouri vote is largely symbolic. If federal courts uphold the health-care law (which is likely), it would take precedence over any state law that contradicts it. If federal courts override the Missouri vote (which, again, is likely), there would be no need for states to challenge it. Still, it is clearly a propaganda victory for those who oppose the President and what has come to be dubbed “Obamacare.”
More than 700,000 Missourians don’t have health insurance and the state’s hospitals spent more than $830 million in 2008 providing care for these individuals. For that reason, the Missouri Hospital Association spent $400,000 warning people that voting for Proposition C was against their own best interests. But Missouri voters did not listen. They, apparently, didn’t want the government taking away their “freedom.”
But people now already don’t have the freedom not to buy car insurance, not to wear seat belts, not to use car seats for children, etc. That lack of freedom is considered necessary for the public good. Thus it seems that the opposition to compulsory health insurance is far more political than it is reasonable.
Of course, the main motivation for many voting Yes was probably their fear that they might be required to help provide insurance for the large number of people who do not currently have health insurance. But as I have written on this blog previously, the need for everyone to have some kind of health insurance is the primary reason for favoring the national health care plan.
At the time of the primary election, I made a couple of postings on Facebook encouraging people to vote against Proposition C. One person responded by writing, “Yes = Capitalism; No = Socialism.” It seems to me that it is probably more accurate to say, “Yes = Selfishness; No = Concern for the poor and needy.” But Missouri voters have spoken, and some of us are quite disappointed at what they have said.