Phoenix, May 26, 2009 — PRI’s director of Health Care Studies, John R. Graham, testified on the benefits of the Arizona Health Care Freedom Act (AHCFA) to the Arizona House of Representatives’ Health & Human Services Committee. Mr. Graham believes that the “AHCFA secures the rights of Arizonans to spend their money on the health care of their choice.”
In response to opposition by some government officials, Mr. Graham points out that the “AHCFA does not interfere with government programs for low-income residents. However, it prevents the state from conscripting residents who prefer not to be subject to the practice of medicine by government.”
Critics have also charged that the AHCFA protects the private insurance industry. Mr. Graham responds, “The AHCFA’s plain language makes clear that the state cannot forbid any Arizonan from buying private health insurance, but neither can it compel him to do so. It protects Arizonans from either a government-monopoly system (like Canada’s), or mandatory private health insurance (imposed in Massachusetts in 2006).”
Government-run health care plans are already in serious trouble. The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System’s hospital rate freeze caused 59 percent of the states hospitals to increase the cost shift, or “hidden tax” to private payers, according to the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association this February. But when government programs fail, they don’t fail alone. They tend to take everyone else down with them.
Citing examples from the British government imposed National Health Service (NHS) and Canada’s taxpayer-funded “universal” health care, Mr. Graham describes how other single-payer health care systems have prevented citizens from “topping up” government-rationed health care with their own funds.
“A recent NHS scandal involves breast-cancer patients taking the new drug, Avastin, for which the NHS would not pay. The NHS told some patients that the bureaucracy would give them no breast-cancer care at all if they paid for Avastin with their own money, although their doctors had prescribed it. Supporters of government monopoly argued that it was unfair that some citizens were able to pay for Avastin and others not – even though the state would not provide it at all.”
Mr. Graham adds, “Canada, initially preserved the right to pay their doctors independently, but over time that began to grate on the government, because it interfered with bureaucrats’ central planning. They effectively outlawed it in 1984, until two decades later when the Supreme Court of Canada finally restored this right after hearing the case of Dr. Jacques Chaoulli and Mr. George Zeliotis. In the government system, Dr. Chaoulli would have had to wait two years to perform hip replacement surgery on Mr. Zeliotis. Although Mr. Zeliotis was prepared to pay Dr. Chaoulli to perform the surgery immediately, the law forbade it. The Supreme Court found that the prohibition violated Mr. Zeliotis’ civil rights.”
Concluding Mr. Graham adds, “The AHCFA would not have been necessary a few years ago. Americans would have assumed that our freedom to spend our own money on health care of our own choice was integral to our civil rights. The uncontrolled growth of government health care programs makes this assumption untenable. The right to health care of one’s choice is under threat. Arizonans need the AHCFA to protect themselves from the harmful effects of government-monopoly health care.”