February 4, 2010
By Amy Hooper Kearbey*
On February 1, 2010, the Virginia Senate passed three identical bills that would prohibit any resident of the Commonwealth from being required to purchase health insurance. The bills would add a new section 38.2-3430.1:1 to the Virginia Insurance Code:
No resident of this Commonwealth, regardless of whether he has or is eligible for health insurance coverage under any policy or program provided by or through his employer, or a plan sponsored by the Commonwealth or the federal government, shall be required to obtain or maintain a policy of individual insurance coverage. No provision of this title shall render a resident of this Commonwealth liable for any penalty, assessment, fee, or fine as a result of his failure to procure or obtain health insurance coverage.
The action by the Virginia Senate tracks similar efforts under way in more than thirty other states. The legislation is intended to counter proposed mandatory health insurance requirements in federal healthcare reform legislation, but its impact may be largely symbolic as a federal mandate would likely preempt contrary state laws. Five Democrats joined the Republicans in supporting the bills. The bills have been referred to the House Committee on Commerce and Labor.
*We would like to thank Amy Hooper Kearbey, Esquire (McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Washington, DC), for providing this email alert.