Saturday, September 29, 2007

Goldwater Institute: Health Care by Ballot Box

Proposed constitutional amendment protects right to choose your own health plan

by Clint Bolick

Health insurance is emerging as one of the top domestic issues as the 2008 presidential campaign heats up. Every major candidate, Democrat and Republican, has a plan to expand health coverage. Likewise, plans are afoot to bring universal health insurance to Arizona by voter initiative.

The most sweeping plans have one common element: coercion. Health insurance isn't "universal" if people are allowed to opt out or choose options not allowed by the government.

Anticipating new limits on consumer choice in health care, two Arizona physicians, Eric Novack and Jeff Singer, have filed language for a proposed state constitutional amendment called "The Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act." In simple language, the initiative states that "no law shall be passed that restricts a person's freedom of choice of private health care systems or private plans of any type," and forbids penalties "for choosing to obtain or decline health care coverage or for participation in any particular health care system or plan."

The initiative takes no position on any of the competing health insurance proposals, except to establish the core prerequisite of consumer freedom of choice. Indeed, as the Goldwater Institute will demonstrate in a policy brief scheduled for release next week, expanded access to health care requires deregulation of insurance options, not greater constraints.

In our system of federalism, states are free to establish greater freedom for their citizens than the U.S. Constitution. Adding this vital protection of personal autonomy to our state Constitution could be the ounce of prevention needed to make unnecessary the pound of cure for the expanding regulatory welfare state.

Clint Bolick is the director of the Goldwater Institute's Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.

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