Yay or Nay? 5 Healthcare Initiatives Appearing on State Ballots

Key healthcare issues are appearing on certain state ballots for tomorrow's election, including a proposition to prohibit health insurance exchanges and an initiative to legalize physician-assisted suicide, among others.

Here are summaries of key healthcare ballot measures for five states.

Florida voters will encounter a legislative referendum that proposes an amendment to the state constitution, prohibiting laws from compelling any person or employer to purchase health insurance. The referendum may have few practical implications, according to a Gainesville Sun report, but is intended to "send a message that a majority of Florida's voters are either for or against the individual mandate." A "yes" vote would represent the state's attempt to opt out of federal healthcare reform requirements.

Massachusetts will become the third state to legalize physician-assisted suicide through a ballot initiative if voters support "Prescribing Medication to End Life" at the polls tomorrow. This proposed law would allow a physician to prescribe medication that would end that patient's life. The patient must request the medication, and the patient must have been diagnosed with an incurable and irreversible disease that will result in death within six months.

Participation under the proposed law would be voluntary. For instance, a healthcare provider that does not wish to participate in the law could prohibit or sanction another healthcare provider for participating while on the premises of, or while acting as an employee of or contractor for, the unwilling provider.

Through a legislative referendum called Proposition E, voters will decide whether Missouri's state law should be amended to prohibit the governor or any state agency from establishing a health insurance exchange unless authorized by a popular vote or legislative vote. Similar to Florida's referendum, this measure is seen as symbolic in gauging the state's opposition or support of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law. Regardless of whether Proposition E fails or passes, the federal law still requires health insurance exchanges to be established in every state by 2014.

A legislative referendum will have Montana voters decide whether to prohibit the state and federal government from requiring the purchase of health insurance or imposing any type of penalty on those who do not purchase coverage. State Representative Gary MacLaren (R) introduced the proposal, saying the individual mandate acts as a fine for being poor, since the majority of people are uninsured because they can't afford coverage.

Wyoming is another state attempting to resist the federal healthcare reform law. Voters will encounter the Wyoming Healthcare Freedom Amendment A in tomorrow's polls. If adopted, the amendment will ensure Wyoming residents have "the right to make healthcare decisions" and permit any person to pay — and any healthcare provider to receive — direct payment for services. A policy expert from the Equal State Policy Center in Wyoming criticized the measure, saying the "language is so vague that even the sponsors can't assert that it clearly enables Wyoming residents to escape the mandate," according to a TIME report.

More Articles on Healthcare and the 2012 Election:

Could Romney Really Repeal Healthcare Reform on Day One?
3 Healthcare Policy Experts Weigh in on 2012 Election
Voters Rank Healthcare Second Most Important Issue for 2012 Campaign

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