Virginia lawmaker says Congress like ‘mobsters’ forcing health mandates

As Congress debates a final comprehensive health care bill for the nation, one Virginia delegate is proposing that state residents, and possibly others nationwide, not be held to any coverage mandates.

Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-13th District) has filed the “Virginia Health Care Freedom Act” (HB 10), which would “protect an individual’s right and power to participate or decline to participate in a health care system or plan,” according to a summary of the bill.

“Mobsters used to offer ‘protection’ to business owners, so when Congress says that if individuals don’t become customers of businesses that contribute to them, to me that crosses the line,” Marshall told “For me, it is hard to distinguish what is going on in Washington, D.C., from criminal activity.”

The proposed legislation would also prohibit penalties, taxes or fines upon those who decline to sign a contract with an insurer for health coverage. The only exception, according to the text of the bill, is if a court requires coverage as part of a judicial dispute.

The bill’s language also protects “entities” from mandatory health care purchases, which flies in the face of possible employer mandates to provide insurance for employees or pay a payroll tax.

Marshall said he is confident the measure will pass the Virginia House, but thinks Senate Democrats will hold up the bill.

Marshall has found an ally in former Virginia Attorney General Bill Mims, who also said he believes the mandate “is open for constitutional challenge,” according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.

In a statement accompanying the introduction of the bill, Marshall said that the measure has been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly, which began Jan. 13, and “can be introduced in other state legislatures in 2010.”

He told that state legislators in New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have contacted him about duplicating the measure in their jurisdictions and a legislator in Iowa recently discussed the bill on a radio program.

“Forcing citizens to purchase private insurance violates the compact between elected representatives and citizens reducing government ‘of, by and for the people,’ to demands of lords over subjects,” Marshall claims. “It is the usurpers in Washington who propose to alter self government under the guise of health care reform.”

Since this article was printed, Marshall’s bill was approved by a subcommittee of the House Committee on Commerce and Labor for review by the full committee.

This story originally appeared in the February 2010 print edition of Insurance & Financial Advisor.