COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Voters will get the chance to decide whether Ohio can opt out of the national health care overhaul after the state’s top election official said Tuesday that opponents of the federal law have enough signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot. Secretary of State Jon Husted determined that supporters of the amendment, which would prohibit Ohio from participating in the federal Affordable Care Act, had gathered 427,000 valid signatures. They had submitted more than 546,000 and needed roughly 358,000 of them validated to make it on to the ballot. The coalition has more than 35,000 volunteers, an “army of grass roots support,” ready to mobilize to raise money to turn out voters in November’s election, said Jeff Longstreth, campaign manager for Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom, a group that played a large role in the petitions. “This issue would not be on the ballot without the blood, sweat and tears of thousands and thousands and thousands of volunteers,” Longstreth said. “The message is clear: keep health care between doctors and patients, and keep bureaucrats out of it.”
Ohio religious groups oppose the national health care overhaul on the grounds that they say it would require taxpayer funding of abortions. The insurance exchanges allow plans to cover abortions, provided they collect a separate premium from policyholders and that money is kept apart from federal subsidies. “It is an outrage that taxpayer dollars would go to abortion on demand,” said Chris Long, spokesman for the Ohio Christian Alliance. His group plans on using its network of churches across the state to encourage people to vote for the amendment.