Healthcare reform opponents regroup after petition falls short in Michigan

Organizers of a failed petition drive to exempt Michigan from aspects of the federal healthcare reform law rallied activists in Lansing on Tuesday to urge them to continue their fight through the November midterm elections. The petition collected more than 150,000 signatures, well short of the 381,000 needed to get a referendum to the state constitution on the November ballot.

“Although we fell short of the number of signatures required, the results are unprecedented in recent Michigan history,” said Charlie Owens, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). “Critics who are dismissive of our efforts would do well to consider this fact in light of ongoing efforts that will continue through the elections in November.”

The NFIB’s Michigan chapter held the press conference along with Michigan Citizens for Healthcare Freedom. Their amendment would have prohibited government from: restricting a person’s right to choose his or her own healthcare system or plan; interfering with a person’s or employer’s right to pay directly for lawful medical services; and imposing a penalty or fine on those who choose to obtain or decline any healthcare coverage or to participate in any particular healthcare system or plan.

“The average petition drive has six months to gather signatures and spends about $1.5 million,” Owens added. “We had about 11 weeks and spent about 2 percent of that amount and we still managed to obtain a record number of signatures. This is a battle, not the war; we will carry on with this fight in the courts, with legislation and at the ballot box in November.”