Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blatant deception on Arizona Proposition 101

Arizona ballot proposition 101, the Medical Choice for Arizona amendment, says this:
Be it enacted by the People of Arizona:

1. Article II, Section 36: Constitution of Arizona is proposed to be added as follows if approved by the voters and on proclamation of the Governor:

ARTICLE II, SECTION 36. 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.

2. The Secretary of State shall submit this proposition to the voters at the next general election as provided by Article XXI, of the Constitution of Arizona.

It prohibits the State of Arizona from passing any legislation that prevents individuals from choosing to purchase or decline to purchase any type of health care or health care insurance from what's available, or that imposes a penalty or fine for doing so. That's it. It doesn't introduce any new taxes, it doesn't ban any state spending on health care programs, it doesn't prevent anything except the institution of a state health care or health care insurance program that requires mandatory participation, and it guarantees your right to privately arrange for health care with your own funds from the health care provider of your own choice.

Now, this does ban some kinds of health care program that some people advocate, such as the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law of 2006, which required all Massachusetts residents to purchase health care insurance or face legal penalties--similar to mandatory automobile insurance. That program, supported by Gov. Mitt Romney, is similar to Hillary Clinton's health care proposal, but neither Obama nor McCain advocates mandatory health care insurance. If they did, however, this proposition would not prevent such a program from being instituted at the federal level.

But the opposition to Proposition 101 has been wholly deceptive. Here's some text from a mailer sent out to most Arizona residents last week:
Top 5 Reasons To Vote No On 101

Is an unclear permanent constitutional amendment that is so poorly written that it will ensure that our health care decisions will be dictated by the courts for years to come.

Makes health insurance so expensive, employers will be unable to provide coverage for their employees.

Jeopardizes Arizona's Medicare and Medicaid programs by destroying the cost containment measures adopted to provide affordable health care.

Is opposed by Doctor groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Will increase health care costs to Arizona taxpayers by $2 Billion.
Most of these items are simply fabrications or non sequiturs put forth without argument, and the mailer conveniently fails to mention anything about what the proposition actually says. Further, this mailing contained a photograph of Gov. Janet Napolitano under the State Seal of Arizona, which is a violation of state law, a class 3 misdemeanor.

The signs by the roadside urging opposition to Proposition 101 are equally deceptive, and include the claim that it will increase health care costs to Arizona taxpayers by $2 billion.

I've also seen claims online (in the comments on about.com's discussion) that Prop. 101 is backed by the insurance industry. That's false--it's opposed by the insurance industry, because they support mandatory health insurance programs for obvious reasons. This was a grassroots effort, led by Arizona doctors Eric Novack and Jeff Singer. (I contributed to the funds for signature collection for this ballot proposition.)

I've also seen claims at about.com that Prop. 101 will deregulate the healthcare and health insurance industries. Again, nonsense--the proposition has no effect on the state's ability to regulate healthcare or health insurance, except that it can't impose mandatory insurance or prevent you from purchasing any legal healthcare service or program. It doesn't say that the state can't ban or regulate healthcare, or determine what constitutes lawful healthcare.

The opponents of Prop. 101 are engaging in the most deceptive campaign against a ballot proposition that I've seen in several years. If you think the state of Arizona should be able to impose mandatory health insurance, then that's a reason to vote no on Prop. 101. If you think the right to opt-in or opt-out of health care or health insurance coverage should be left to the individual, then that's a reason to vote yes on Prop. 101.

Clint Bolick of the Goldwater Institute has issued a press release about the deceptive arguments against Proposition 101. I've been meaning to write something about it since I received the dishonest mailing, but seeing his press release prompted me to actually do it.

UPDATE (November 12, 2008): Prop. 101 was defeated in a very close race, 961,567 votes against and 950,440 votes for.

4 comments:

The Priestly Wannabee said...

Who knows what we may need to do at a future date. We should keep our options open - always.

Passing an initiative that says "no law shall be passed..." sets a dangerous precedent. Even the governor is against this one, probably partly for that reason.

Who knows, there may come a day when we need to pass some sort of universal government-sponsored one payer system that is mandatory. To make it available for everyone and avoid any confusion or "falling through the cracks" of anyone. "No mandatory" you say??? Well - you are already doing it - if you drive a motor vehicle you *must* purchase insurance - no choice - **it's mandatory**. What's the difference is you have mandatory health insurance??? So what? Maybe some day we'll need to do that.

My own opinion on a lot of these AZ "ballot initiatives" is that they are deliberately dishonest and misleading, and are usually designed in some way or form to superficially look good and reasonable. But if you look closer and actually think them through, they really stink, and are basically slyly designed to benefit and elite few who proposed them, and screw everyone else in some way. An "old codger" that I used to know when I lived in South Dakota once told me the best policy on ballot initiatives to have is to vote "no" if you aren't sure if it's a good thing or not. A "no" vote doesn't change anything and just leaves things the way they are.

Jim Lippard said...

"Who knows what we may need to do at a future date. We should keep our options open - always.

Passing an initiative that says "no law shall be passed..." sets a dangerous precedent. Even the governor is against this one, probably partly for that reason."

So I take it that you think the First Amendment is a bad idea?

"Who knows, there may come a day when we need to pass some sort of universal government-sponsored one payer system that is mandatory."

This amendment doesn't have any effect on such a federal program, only on a state one. Arizona will provide a good contrasting experiment to Massachusetts.

You're correct that mandatory health insurance is quite similar to mandatory auto insurance in structure, however people use auto insurance quite differently from health insurance. Auto insurance really is used as a last resort, which is what insurance is supposed to be. Nobody uses auto insurance for regular repairs (aside from windshield repair, an area interestingly full of scam-like behavior) or maintenance, though they may use a non-mandatory auto warranty for that purpose. Many people use health insurance, however, as a full-blown health plan for all medical care--also with the result that there seems to be a lot of scammy behavior. If there were more affordable cash-based options for everything but the catastrophic issues (like the clinics that have been popping up lately), and we solely used insurance for the catastrophic issues, we'd have a much better health care system.

Jim Lippard said...

"Who knows what we may need to do at a future date. We should keep our options open - always."

Actually, this merits stronger response. We're talking about powers of the government, not "us." You apparently do not believe in the idea of a constitutionally limited government. I strongly disagree with your position.

We're better off in a state where we have islands of government power in a sea of individual freedom than we are with islands of individual freedom in a sea of government power.

donnie said...

As I understand it, Prop. 101 will guarantee that no piece of legislation can prevent you from paying for an alternative form of health care, if that is what you desire. No law can stop you from paying for additional professional opinions, or paying for tests that are not "authorized" by a health plan, or obtaining a therapy that is not considered "mainstream." Prop. 101 respects your precious right as an adult to decide for yourself about such matters.

Prop. 101 is not "for" or "against" universal health care. Prop. 101 is not a "health care reform" measure. Prop. 101 is concerned with just one goal: protecting our right to make our own health care decisions.

More info at: http://www.yeson101.com.