WASHINGTON -- On Election Day, Arizonans can give the nation the gift of a good example. They can enact a measure that could shape the health care debate that will arrest or accelerate the nation's slide into statism. Proposition 101, "The Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act," would put the following language into Arizona's Constitution:
"Because all people should have the right to make decisions about their health care, no law shall be passed that restricts a person's freedom of choice of private health care systems or private plans of any type. No law shall interfere with a person's or entity's right to pay directly for lawful medical services, nor shall any law impose a penalty or fine, of any type, for choosing to obtain or decline health care coverage or for participation in any particular health care system or plan."
What do those people favor who oppose Proposition 101? Some support legislation sponsored by the Democratic leader in the state House of Representatives. It would establish a severe single-payer system, proscribing private health insurance in the state and requiring almost everyone not on Medicare to enroll in a state health care program. Under that program, a state commission would stipulate the menu of services and medications, and could even decide which hospitals could add which technologies.
A similar bill reached the desk of California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who vetoed it, partly because it lacked a funding mechanism. Such legislation essentially aims to replicate Canada's system, under which, generally speaking, medically necessary physician and hospital services are available only from the government health insurance system.
Opponents of Proposition 101 are against what it would guarantee, including the right of individuals to pay directly for medical services without needing the permission of a third party. Proposition 101 would emancipate service providers from requirements that they either charge fees set by the state, or charge nothing.
Proposition 101 would prevent employer or individual mandates of the sort imposed in Massachusetts. That is, it would prevent "pay or play" systems, under which employers must either pay for employees' health insurance or pay into a state pool that finances insurance for them.