Tennessee Senate approves Health Freedom Act to protect rights of citizens to choose whether or not to participate in any future federally mandated health care program

Contact:  Darlene Schlicher (615) 741-6336 or email:  [email protected]
    (NASHVILLE, TN), February 17, 2009 — The Tennessee Senate approved legislation today by a vote of 26-1-5 to protect the freedom of Tennessee patients to make their own health care choices, regardless of any future federal action.  The bill, called the Tennessee Health Freedom Act is sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), as well as Upper East Senators Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), Mike Faulk (R-Church Hill) and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville). 
     “For the federal government to have the right to dictate that each citizen sign up for the health care that Congress mandates would be like the federal government dictating that we all buy cars that received federal bail out dollars,” said Senator Crowe, who is Chairman of the Senate General Welfare, Health and Human Services Committee.
    Beavers said the legislation, Senate Bill 3498, would protect a citizen’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.  She said it does not seek to “nullify” any federal law, as it would still allow individuals the option to participate in a federal program. However, the bill acknowledges the right of Tennesseans to refuse to participate in a government-run health insurance program.  It also calls on the state’s Attorney General to take action in the defense or prosecution of rights protected under the legislation.
    “Never in our history has the U.S. government required its citizens as a condition of residency to purchase a particular product from a private company or government entity,” added Senator Beavers.  “This act seeks to protect the rights of Tennesseans to choose what type and quantity of health insurance to purchase.”
     Action on the bill will now move to the House of Representatives, where it is sponsored by Representative Beth Harwell (R-Nashville).

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