Kansas lawmakers seek ways to block federal health care overhaul

TOPEKA — A day after the U.S. House passed major health care reform legislation, the Kansas House debated a proposed state constitutional amendment designed to block it.

But it appears the measure could fall a few votes shy of passing when the House holds a final vote today.

The amendment would attempt to prohibit the federal government from requiring almost every Kansan to have health insurance. That mandate is one of the cornerstones of the reform bill passed Sunday by the U.S. House.

If passed by two-thirds majorities in the state House and Senate, the proposed change to the Kansas Constitution would go before voters in November.

House lawmakers voted 76-44 on Monday to advance the measure to a final vote today. However, that’s eight votes shy of the 84 needed to pass the bill, HCR 5032.

Supporters, mostly House Republicans and a handful of Democrats, argued that the amendment is needed to protect Kansans' right to make their own health care decisions. They called the insurance mandate an unconstitutional power grab by the federal government.

"I ask that we stand up for the people," said Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican and one of the main sponsors of the legislation. "Stand up for what this state and this country stand for, and that’s our rights, our freedoms and our civil liberties."

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