Two doctors are launching an initiative drive to preclude lawmakers from requiring Arizonans to purchase health insurance.
The proposed constitutional amendment bars the approval of any law “that restricts a person’s freedom of choice of private health care systems or private plans of any type.”
The measure, if it makes it on the ballot and is approved by voters next year, would prohibit the state from imposing penalties or fines against anyone based on the type of insurance Arizonans choose to buy, if they choose to buy coverage at all.
Supporters have until July 3 to get 230,047 valid signatures on petitions to put the issue on next year’s ballot.
Jeffrey Singer, a Phoenix surgeon, said he and colleague Eric Novack proposed the initiative because states are pushing ahead with their own universal health care plans in the absence of federal action.
Massachusetts, for example, requires all people to purchase insurance or face a fine.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing a similar program there.
An aide to Gov. Janet Napolitano said her health care proposal, to be presented to legislators in January, has no mandatory health insurance.
But Singer said his measure is necessary to ensure Arizonans will not be forced to have health insurance in the future. Singer said he’s not against health insurance as a matter of choice. But he said government mandates have a way of producing unintended consequences that end up limiting the options patients have to get care.
“We just want to make sure that whatever ends up happening ... won’t be able to restrict people’s freedom of choice regarding whether or not they want to participate in a particular plan,” Singer said.
One concern, Singer said, would be provisions to ban individuals from directly paying for health care. That’s what happens in Canada, he said. If the country’s health program will not pay for a particular treatment or test, doctors are legally precluded from performing it, even if the patient has the money to pay for it.