Topeka A proposed state constitutional amendment aimed at challenging the federal health care reform law fell one vote short Thursday of getting on the November ballot.
The Kansas Senate voted 26-14 for the so-called Health Care Freedom Amendment but that was one vote less than the two thirds majority that is required to put propositions on the ballot.
State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, who has been pushing for the amendment since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was approved in 2010, said the state constitutional amendment would protect Kansans.
"It prohibits government coercion to force people to be in a governmental health care system that they don't want to be part of," she said. "This relates to the liberty of Kansas citizens," she added.
But opponents said the amendment was disingenuous because the federal law will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"This is nothing more than, looks good, feels good," said state Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park.
State Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said state law can't trump federal law.
Others argued there was no reason to consider such an amendment since the U.S. Supreme Court has already decided to consider the disputed law, and is expected to issue a ruling as early as June.
State Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said it was unclear whether the language of the amendment could be construed to prohibit elderly Kansans from participating in Medicare. Pilcher-Cook denied that was the case.
The proposed amendment would have added a new section to the state constitution saying no law or rule shall force an individual or employer to buy health insurance — a challenge to the federal law’s requirement that most Americans purchase insurance, starting in 2014.
Six Republicans joined all eight Democrats to stop the measure.
The House adopted the proposed amendment last year.