On another ballot….

There’s lots of important ballot measures on the California ballot, but one for health advocates to watch is in Arizona.

In Arizona, there’s Proposition 101, which would block future universal health coverage efforts in that state, according to Jacob Goldstein of the Wall Street Journal Health Blog.

The initiative, as a constitutional amendment, states that it would:

“Prohibits laws that: restrict person’s choice of private health care systems or private plans; interfere with person’s or entity’s right to pay directly for lawful medical services; impose a penalty or fine for choosing to obtain or decline health care coverage or for participating in any health care system or plan.”

While phrased as “choice,” in actuality it would prohibit even basic regulation of private insurers, including most efforts to control costs in the health care system. The proponents are candid in their desire to have this amendment in order to prevent various broad health reforms, from the creation of a single-payer proposal, a “pay-or-play” policy, an individual mandate, or other ideas.

Supporting are conservative doctors and anti-tax groups, while there’s an interesting coalition in opposition from health advocates to chambers of commerce to hospitals and health providers to childrens and senior groups to Gov. Janet Napolitano.

The proponents talk about “choice,” but actually don’t acknowledge that the current health system is what restricts choice: people don’t get coverage because they are denied for pre-existing conditions, or are denied because it is unaffordable. The point of reform is to provide those new choices, including public–not just private–coverage options, that many don’t have now.

Regardless, Proposition 101 is one of many monkey wrenches that will be thrown at health reformers in the next few years. Let’s see how Arizona deals with it this week.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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