Arizona Republican State Rep. Nancy Barto appeared on the Ed Show on MSNBC and looked crazy enough to actually believe in her proposition titled the Health Care Freedom Act. It basically says people don’t have to have insurance if they don’t want it, allowing them to freeload off everyone else if they ever need care and poison pill a national plan that requires coverage for everyone. These people must stay up nights figuring out how they can create as much chaos as possible.
Powerful political and business interests are pushing for the federal government to take a greater role in health care. But a few state legislators across the country are hoping to thwart that trend.
Last fall, Arizona voters considered Proposition 101, titled the “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act.” The GOP-supported measure would prohibit laws that “restrict person’s choice of private health care systems or private plans.”
Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, opposed the idea. So did the state’s hospital association, and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others. State Rep. Phil Lopes (head of the Democratic caucus) warned that it would “further push Arizonans into the iron grip of an industry that is failing us.” Still others argued that the act had ambiguous language that could set off expensive legal battles, and could inflate the cost of the state’s Medicaid by $2 billion.
It was no surprise, then, that the measure failed. Some supporters of Prop 101 called the defeat a “moral victory,” since it lost by just over 8,000 votes out of 1.8 million cast.
Advocates of Prop 101, including those in the Arizona Legislature, kept active. Republican Arizona Rep. Nancy Barto, chair of the House Health and Human Service Committee, filed a revised version of Prop 101, which became HCR2014, “The Healthcare Freedom Act.” The Legislature, on party-line votes, enacted the measure on June 22, and the measure will be placed on the Nov. 10 ballot in Arizona as a referendum.
If voters approve it, “The Healthcare Freedom Act” would, among other things, forbid any law that compels anyone “to participate in any health care system.” It would also allow patients to pay directly for health care services, and for doctors to receive such payments. (Such “topping off” is forbidden in some single-payer systems.) The amendment would also state that health insurance purchases could not be prohibited. The amendment, then, nails a stake through the heart of two essential elements of universal, single-payer system: Everybody in the system, and nobody outside the system. It also effectively forbids a Hawaii-style play-or-pay mandate on employers or a Massachusetts-style requirement that individuals obtain coverage.
In a press release, Barto claimed that the act would “prevent citizens from being compelled to join a government-run health care system” and “guarantee the right to purchase private health insurance.”
The mere fact that Arizona has been discussing this idea has national implications. According to a Fox News report, legislators in Indiana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming have floated similar measures, citing concerns related both to health care policy itself and the vibrancy of federalism.
Stephen Moore, an editorial board member of the Wall Street Journal and a fan of the Arizona measure, sees legal difficulties but political advantages for state legislators. He wrote: “Whether state initiatives can block a federal law is an open federalism question.