Session Priority: Consumer Health

January 25, 2009 by  

It has been said: If you think health care is expensive now – just wait until it’s free. And we’re moving there quickly! 

In fact, the health care provisions contained in the 2009 Stimulus Bill move us several steps closer to government-controlled health care.  Read this concise article:

What should our health care system look like and who should pay for it?  How will government assume the reins?  Will consumers be allowed to direct our health decisions? 

If passed this session, these state reforms will create a better health care environment in Arizona and help lower costs – movement we probably will not see come from Washington any time soon. 

Individual Health Insurance; coverage exemptions – Senate Bill 1325

This bill allows individual health insurance products to be sold in Arizona without all the state’s mandates, increasing consumer options.  Small businesses already have this ability –  individuals should have the same opportunity.

Why?  AHCCCS is the fastest growing entitlement program in the State.  In fact, according to the Goldwater Institute economists at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that public insurance programs like Medicaid (AHCCCS in Arizona)  compete with private alternatives and between 50 and 75% of enrollment increases that resulted from expanding Medicaid came from people who left private-sector insurers.  With one out of five Arizonans on AHCCCS, we should ask ourselves whether Arizona is allowing enough competition to compete with AHCCCS.  This bill will do that.

How?  By increasing consumer choice.  As more people take advantage of health savings accounts and other tax deferred benefits, less expensive High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) protect against catastrophic illness while providing incentives for individuals to better managing their day-to-day health. 

Burden of Proof; emergency treatment – Senate Bill 1018

This is the critically important medical liability reform that will raise the burden of proof necessary for a patient to sue emergency room physicians and hospital personnel.  The bill passed the legislature once, but met the former Governor’s veto pen.  New Executive leadership should help this time around and most legislative members understand the need to protect doctors practicing emergency medicine from frivolous lawsuits so passage is likely.

How will it help? 

Cut overall patient costs by reducing the tendency for doctors to practice overly defensive medicine.

Encourage physicians to practice in the state – medical liability laws vary per state and Arizona needs improvement on this score.

Lower malpractice insurance for the profession.

Health Care Freedom Act – HCR 2014

The referendum, if passed at the ballot box, will protect the rights of Arizonans to purchase private health care in the event the state or federal government mandates universal-style health care on its citizens.  Wording will be similar to that voters very narrowly defeated last November (Prop. 101) but will address some concerns that were raised regarding current AHCCCS users.

As a practical response to this aspect of the state’s fiscal challenges, seeing these real reforms meet with success will put Arizona in the forefront of consumer-friendly and cost effective health care. 


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