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Newsletter

Health Freedom Watch
February 2010

Contents:


Virginia Senate Says NO to Mandatory Health Insurance

With five Democratic state senators breaking ranks with their party, the Virginia Senate approved legislation to prohibit mandatory health insurance.  “Three identical bills to prohibit Virginians from being required to purchase health [insurance] were approved [Feb. 1] on 23-17 votes in the Virginia Senate, where Democrats have a 22-18 majority,” the AP reported.

The bills are SB 283, 311, and 417.  Bill SB 283 states:

“No resident of this Commonwealth, regardless of whether he has or is eligible for health insurance coverage under any policy or program provided by or through his employer, or a plan sponsored by the Commonwealth or the federal government, shall be required to obtain or maintain a policy of individual insurance coverage.  No provision of this title shall render a resident of this Commonwealth liable for any penalty, assessment, fee, or fine as a result of his failure to procure or obtain health insurance coverage.”

The Washington Post reported that the bills were expected to be approved by the GOP-controlled House of Delegates and signed by Governor McDonnell.

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Dozens of States Seek to Keep Health Insurance Optional

At least 30 state legislatures are seeking to keep health insurance optional, according to a legislative update from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).  The language of the proposals varies from state to state, and 21 states are moving to put constitutional amendments on the ballot. 

The NCSL notes that “Based on actions initially in Arizona, several states propose or may propose state constitutional amendments, using language such as: ‘To preserve the freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care… A law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer or health care provider to participate in any health care system….’”  The report goes on to note that “Arizona voters are scheduled to cast ballots on this constitutional amendment next November [2010] that, if adopted by voters, could block future state health reforms and at least raise questions about some features within future federal health reforms.”

According to the NCSL tracking, as of early February formal resolutions or bills had been filed in: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. 

For details about the legislation, see the NCSL’s tracking legislative update http://www.ncsl.org/?tabid=18906 or a PDF copy (as of Feb. 10, 2010).

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, “State Legislation Opposing Certain Health Reforms, 2009-2010,” (update as of February 10, 2010): http://www.ncsl.org/?tabid=18906

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Freedom-Loving Physician, Not Lobbyist, Launched Movement to Protect Against Mandatory Health Insurance

The New York Times suggests that state legislative efforts to keep health insurance optional were spearheaded by the “health lobby” to stop national health-care reform.  But Dr. Eric Novack, an orthopedic surgeon and chairman of Arizonans for Health Care Freedom, says that is incorrect.  Novack points out that in 2008 the health-insurance industry opposed a proposed amendment to the Arizona constitution to forbid compulsory health insurance.  

As Novack recently explained in an op-ed (emphasis added):

  • “The premise of the Times’ Dec. 28 article is that the Arizona referendum … and the national movement it has started … is, in fact, a sneaky effort by the ‘health lobby’ to ‘stop reform.’ Nothing could be further from the truth.  I should know. I had the idea for the Health Care Freedom Act in 2006. As a doctor who has taken care of patients, rich and poor, young and old, for over two decades, in every setting from ambulances to homeless clinics to VA hospitals to trauma centers and community hospitals, the future was clear to me back then: Unless we act decisively to protect the rights of patients to make their own health-care decisions, those rights will be the first ones sacrificed on the altar of health-care reform.”
  •  “Sadly, my prediction has proved to be true, not because the ‘health lobby’ has opposed reforms, as the New York Times stated, but rather because health-care special interests have embraced those reforms in the same way Mafia dons ‘embrace’ a newly made man. The recent past highlights that point. During the 2008 election cycle in Arizona, a truly grass-roots effort resulted in 330,000 signatures and in Proposition 101, the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act, making the ballot. Our goal? To chisel two basic rights into Arizona’s Constitution: The right to choose not to participate in a health plan without penalty and the right to always spend your own money on health-care services.”
  •  “Who opposed us in that effort, outspending our modest campaign by a ratio of 5-1? Health insurance companies with government contracts. Not a single dime of financial or rhetorical support came from any of the entrenched health-care interests—the very same special interests who have been busy cutting deals with the Obama administration and congressional leaders over the last year.”

Novack also explained that although the amendment was defeated by a mere 0.4 percent in 2008, his organization has clarified the measure’s language.  Thus, Arizona’s Medicaid department no longer has problems with it.  Consequently, the state legislature voted in June to place the revised amendment on the November 2010 ballot.

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Health Freedom Watch is published by the Institute for Health Freedom. Editor: Sue Blevins; Assistant Editor: Deborah Grady. Copyright 2010 Institute for Health Freedom.