COLUMBIA — Missouri law now contains a direct challenge to the federal health care law passed earlier this year.
Primary voters approved Proposition C by a wide margin Tuesday, giving Missourians the power under state law to ignore government requirements to buy health insurance and nullifying penalties for failing to do so.
Just over 71 percent favored the ballot question, with 29 percent in opposition, according to unofficial final results.
The measure is intended to invalidate in Missouri a key element of the federal health care law passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in March. That law requires individuals to purchase health insurance beginning in 2014.
Tuesday's vote was the first statewide referendum in the nation to test an aspect of the health care law. Similar questions will be on November ballots in Oklahoma, Arizona and Florida.
The proposition's success was bolstered by a heavily Republican turnout in a relatively low-turnout primary. In the U.S. Senate race, for example, Republican candidates received almost 65 percent of the votes cast.
Proposition C was sponsored in the General Assembly and strongly supported by Republicans. Many of its chief critics have been Democrats.
Supporters have couched the law as a defense of Missourians' right to make their own health care choices.
With Tuesday's victory, voters did two things, said state Sen. Jane Cunningham, a St. Louis County Republican. They protected their rights and signaled their displeasure with Congress and Obama.
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