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Obama's healthcare goals get tougher with GOP wins


By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: November 3, 2010 - 8:15 am ET
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Voters on Tuesday made it harder for the Obama administration to implement its broad healthcare agenda, as they chose the Republican Party to resume control of the U.S. House of Representatives and two states approved measures that rejected an individual insurance mandate.

Meanwhile, the governor's race is still undecided in the state of Florida, where former Columbia/HCA chairman Rick Scott holds a slim lead over Democrat Alex Sink.

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In Arizona and Oklahoma, voters supported a measure that prevents an individual mandate for health insurance, although a similar measure failed in Colorado. For Arizona and Oklahoma—along with Missouri, which rejected the mandate in August—the courts must decide the matte because the U.S. Constitution prohibits state law from preempting federal law, said Jennie Bowser, a senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.

Bowser said it was “a surprisingly bad night for medical marijuana,” as voters in Arizona and South Dakota rejected measures to legalize the substance for medical purposes, and Oregon voters rejected a measure to allow marijuana to be sold in dispensaries.

Overall, voters supported measures at the state level that continue funding for healthcare, including a measure in Idaho that would give hospitals the limited ability to incur debt to acquire facilities and technology; a provision in Maine that approved a $5 million bond issue to increase access to dental care; and a proposition in Arizona that sets aside funding from tobacco taxes for early childhood development and health, keeping the revenue from flowing into the general fund.

Washington voters rejected a measure that would have taxed high-income earners—those individuals earning $200,000 or more a year and couples earning $400,000 or more—in an effort to pour $11.2 billion over five years for new healthcare programs, but Bowser said she thought this was more a rejection of an income tax than it was a philosophical blow to healthcare.

In Colorado, voters failed to support an amendment that would have outlawed all types of abortion and certain types of birth control by defining the word “person” as the beginning of biological development.

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