When you talk to people hanging out in the Capitol during session as much as I do, sometimes you hear “things.” And one of the issues/rumors that you find bubbling out there is connected to the 2014 election, and a ballot measure which passed with strong support.
As part of the 2014 election, there was a measure introduced called the patient’s choice act, or IM17. As noted by the measure’s proponents:
Patient Choice allows insured patients improved and less costly access to highly qualified, quality physicians that may be better suited or more familiar and convenient than those offered by the insurance company chosen by their employer.
In some instances, a change of insurance may make it cost prohibitive for a patient to see their long-term provider. For example, if an employer selects a new group health insurance plan from a company that uses a closed network, an employee’s longtime primary care provider may be excluded from the network if he is not an employee of the hospital system that owns the insurance company that issued the new group policy. This results in the employee paying expensive out-of-pocket costs or finding a new, unfamiliar provider.
Initiated Measure 17 passed on a decisive vote of 166,401 in favor of, versus 102,792 against – the highest margin of victory for the three measures on the ballot.
Fast forward to the 2016 legislative session. I’m hearing rumors afoot that there may be a bill brought in the legislature that could potentially alter that language and void IM17 at least in part. Upon hearing that, a phrase that comes to mind is “the will of the people.” And for whoever decides to sponsor such a measure, bucking that electoral will could be painful.
I think back to what happened last year; in the session immediately following the elections, a measure was brought to slightly modify a minor provision of another ballot measure, the minimum wage act. The least popular of the three ballot measures, the minimum wage act was passed 150,819 to 123,167, and was not just controversial, but strongly opposed.
The bill, which was passed, brought outrage in the state’s media, and a petition drive was initiated, where the repeal of a minor portion of the ballot measure was immediately referred for election this year. The fervor of that measure has somewhat died down over the past year, where it might not affect the election fortunes of the measure’s proponents. At least until their opponents remind the voters of it.
That happened when a minor provision was passed to slightly alter the least popular ballot measure from 2014. Anger and near-automatic referral. What do you think the reaction will be for the legislator who might attempt a major alteration of the most popular ballot measure from the preceding election, which had virtually no opposition at the ballot box? Especially coming smack dab in the middle of the election year?
Based on last years’ experience, I suspect it’s going to generate a wave of negative publicity that the legislator probably didn’t contemplate when they put their name on the line to support such a measure. And that could be a wave that might dash them on the rocks in the next election.
In that instance, taking direct aim at the will of the people in such a manner might not just be an unwise thing. It could prove to be downright painful.