GOP-backed health care amendment removed from Florida ballot

Calling the wording of a Republican-backed constitutional amendment on health care "manifestly misleading," a Circuit Court judge in Leon County has tossed it off the November ballot.

The proposal had been drafted and put forward by the GOP-led state legislature as a counter to the new federal health care plan. It would prohibit the state from participating in any health insurance exchange that compels people to buy insurance.

State law requires ballot summaries to be clear and accurate. Circuit Court Judge James Shelfer said a proposed ballot summary for the amendment contains several phrases that are political and list issues that are not addressed in the proposal.

The first sentence of the summary says the amendment would "ensure access to health care services without waiting lists, protect the doctor-patient relationship, (and) guard against mandates that don't work."

Shelfer said the amendment does not guarantee any of those things.

"Someone voting on the amendment, reading those introductory statements would have a false understanding of what they were voting on," he said in a ruling from the bench.

Critics and even one of its proponents acknowledged at the time that the amendment likely would not affect the national law because U.S. Constitution also contains a "Supremacy Clause" that largely allows federal laws to trump state statutes. But it could have prohibited Florida from enacting a Massachusetts-style health care system.

This was the third legislative proposal declared misleading by judges and knocked off the November ballot. Other proposals dealt with the Legislature's power to draw political boundaries and to give property tax breaks to people with second homes and businesses.

The ruling will likely be appealed.

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