Gov. Bev Perdue has vetoed House Bill 2, the “Protect Health Care Freedom” act.
The measure was one of the top agenda items for the legislature’s new Republican leadership. It was approved last month on a mostly party-line vote.
The news broke on Twitter this afternoon via Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson. In a statement shortly thereafter, Perdue called H2 "superfluous" and unconstitutional. "This is an ill-conceived piece of legislation that's not good for the people of North Carolina," the governor said. "Therefore I veto it."
H2 was an attempt to forestall federal healthcare reform by making a section of it – the individual mandate – unenforceable under state law. The measure would have made it illegal to require any North Carolinian to purchase health insurance, or to punish anyone for not buying it. It also required the Attorney General to defend any state citizen against federal lawsuits stemming from the mandate.
In an advisory letter to the governor last week, Attorney General Roy Cooper called the measure unenforceable and unconstitutional. “State legislatures cannot pick and choose which federal laws the state will obey,” Cooper said, “even those laws we don’t like or agree with.”
Cooper also warned Perdue that H2 could cost the state millions in federal Medicaid funding, saying one provision in the bill would ban state Medicaid providers from paying an HCR-required fee for a new anti-fraud program.
Last night, House Majority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, sent out an advisory written by non-partisan legislative staff, arguing that H2 would be enforceable, and would not ban providers from paying the anti-fraud fee. That’s here.
Today’s veto is Perdue’s third. N.C. governors have only had veto power since 1996. The governor at that time, Jim Hunt, never exercised it. His successor, Mike Easley, used it nine times over his eight years as governor.