Missouri Voters Pass Referendum Barring Health Insurance Mandates

Missouri voters became the latest to express displeasure with the new health care reform law yesterday.

The latest display of public displeasure with the new health care reform law came yesterday in Missouri:

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.

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.

It’s unclear where things go from here with regard to this law. Missouri is not one of the states that has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Government to strike down the health care law and, given that it’s Attorney General is a Democrat, it’s unlikely that they will. Moreover, given that this referendum was on the ballot during a primary dominated by Republicans, the political impact of the victory for the anti-ObamaCare crowd is somewhat muted. It’s a victory, but not really a very important or significant one.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, Healthcare Policy, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Vast Variety says:

    That looks like the state of Georgia behind that button.

  2. Vast Variety says:

    That looks like the state of Georgia behind that button.

  3. It might be. It’s a stock graphic that’s not supposed to represent a specific state, really

  4. Billy says:

    Meh- 70% of an 11% turnout on the hottest day of the last two years is hardly a resounding victory for opponents of the individual mandate.
    Being on the ground in Missouri, I can safely say that the vast majority of people (a) don’t think that this has any legal effect, and (b) don’t really care anyway.

  5. Billy,

    I agree. If this were a General Election, this would have more meaning

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    My interpretation of this result is that voters in Missouri, the quintessential purple state, who oppose the healthcare reform bill are more motivated than voters there who support it.

  7. sam says:

    I’ve tried to post this twice now, and failed. One more time. In 1993, S 1770, a bill to provide comprehensive reform of the health care system of the United 
    States, and for other purposes, was introduced by the following: Mr. Chafee (for himself, Mr. Dole, Mr. Bond, Mr. Hatfield, Mr. Bennett, Mr. Hatch, Mr. Danforth, Mr. Brown, Mr. Gorton, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Stevens, Mr. Cohen, Mrs. Kassebaum, Mr. Warner, Mr. Specter, Mr. Faircloth, Mr. Domenici, Mr. Lugar, Mr. Grassley, Mr. Durenberger Mr. 
    Boren, and Mr. Kerrey)
    Note some of the co-sponsors. Given where we are now, this is the interesting part of the bill:

    (a) In General.–Effective January 1, 2005, each individual who is a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States shall be covered under –
    (1) a qualified health plan, or
    (2) an equivalent health care program (as defined in section 1601(7)).
    (b) Exception.–Subsection (a) shall not apply in the case of an individual who is opposed for religious reasons to health plan coverage, including an
    individual who declines health plan coverage due to a reliance on healing using spiritual means through prayer alone.
    Subtitle D–Enforcement Provisions
    (a) General Rule.–There is hereby imposed a tax on the failure any individual to comply with the requirements of section 1501 of the
    Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993.
    (b) Amount of Tax.–The amount of tax imposed by subsection (a) with respect to any calendar year shall be equal to 120 percent of the
    applicable dollar limit for such year for such individual (within the meaning of section 91(b)(2) and determined on an annual basis).

    I’d but in the link, but I think that’s what causes the failure to post. Try googling S 1770 1993.

  8. sam says:

    put in the link, of course…evidently that’s what was causing the failure to post. sigh.

  9. Juneau: says:

    It’s a victory, but not really a very important or significant one.
    Whistling past the graveyard.  What tune will be picked when it becomes clear that the super-majority of Americans don’t want this?  At what point, in a government that is “by the people and for the people”, do you move from “federal law is immutable once approved by the judicial branch” to “the federal law is in opposition the consent of the governed and therefore unconstitutional?”

  10. Juneau: says:

    Y’all are funny.  There’s a fable that fits your reaction to the vote in Missouri quite neatly – I’m sure you’re all familiar with it.  Just keep telling yourself that it doesn’t matter ’cause the grapes were probably sour anyway.

  11. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Juneau something, that is right.  I can see November from my house.  We will see how much it matters soon.

  12. tom p says:

    Funny how the “voters” of MO (I was one of the few) have a problem with the Gov’t mandating “fiscal responsibility for ones health care…” but have no problem with the gov’t mandating “fiscal responsibility” for ones driving….


    The day certain people say “It is ok for a hospital to deny medical care on the basis that an individual is unable to provide surety of payment…” is the day I will say this country has decided to take health care seriously.

    (funny how that free market thingy is a great thing… until it hits you in the face.)