Arizona and Health Care Reform
From the Wall Street Journal's coverage of the fascinating Proposition 101 in Arizona:
Proposition 101, the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act, has set off a storm of opposition, though its language hardly seems controversial. It reads that "no law shall be passed that restricts a person's freedom of choice of private heath care systems or private plans of any type." Also: "No law shall interfere with a person's right to pay directly for lawful medical services . . ."
Who could be against an initiative that protects the right of patients to choose and pay for a doctor or a health plan? The answer is proponents of a health-care system run by the government. For them, enshrining into law protections for private health plans is anathema. Believe it or not, the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce also opposes the initiative. Its big health-insurance members want to protect their interests as contractors to the state's Medicaid plan.
Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano argues that Proposition 101 would limit future health-care reform options. Eric Novack, a physician and the chairman of Proposition 101, responds, "The only option that our initiative rules out is a mandatory single-payer system." Single-payer health-care systems, as in Canada, make it illegal in most cases for people to go outside the government's system and contract for their own medical services. Arizona's proposition forbids those kinds of restrictions.