NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Health Freedom Act, a bill that mirrors legislation currently moving through the Idaho legislature and being considered in over 30 other state legislatures, cleared its first hurdle on Tuesday by passing through the Senate Commerce Committee with a vote of 8-0, with one abstention.
The legislation’s sponsor, Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt Juliet), presented a passionate plea to the committee regarding the need to adopt a measure that ensures Tennesseans’ right to choose whether or not to purchase a particular type of health insurance, and to defend them from federal mandates and penalties if one chooses to not purchase a particular product.
“This act seeks to protect the rights of Tennesseans to choose – to choose what type and quantity of health insurance to purchase,” said Beavers. “No matter what legislation eventually passes through Congress, as state legislators, we need to stand up for the citizens of this state, our fantastic doctors and hospitals, and stand up against unconstitutional and unprecedented federal mandates.”
Senate Bill 3498 would protect a person’s right to participate, or not participate, in any healthcare system, and would prohibit the federal government from imposing fines or penalties on that person’s decision. The bill does not seek to “nullify” any federal law, as it would still allow individuals the option to participate in a federal program; however, it would also acknowledge the right of individuals to refuse to participate in a government-run health insurance program.
“Unlike car insurance which is not compulsory but is required when one chooses to utilize the privilege of driving on public roads, the pending health insurance mandates are entirely different because they are based solely as a requirement of U.S. citizenship,” said Beavers. “Never in our history has the U.S. government required its citizens – simply because they are citizens – to purchase a particular product from a private company or government entity.”
The Tennessee Health Freedom Act will now move to the Senate floor in the coming weeks to be voted on by the entire Senate, and then the measure will have to pass through the House before it will go to the Governor for his signature.