Thursday, July 10, 2008

From Jersey To Arizona: Reform Legislation

From the Upper East Coast to the dry expanses out West, health care reform is making waves. As the ad campaign of Health Care For America Now! begins to roll out (see my earlier posting), the state governments of both New Jersey and Arizona are in the news because of their actions on this topic.

In the Northeast, we have New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine who just signed a health insurance reform bill into law that includes an expansion of NJ Family Care, a source of low cost insurance options for those who are in need.

Via the Philadelphia Business Journal:

The legislation increases the number of low-income families who qualify for the program and phases-in mandatory coverage for all children in the Garden State. [...]

Corzine wants to see all New Jersey residents have health insurance by 2011.

"While there has been much national dialogue about universal health care, here in New Jersey, we're actually doing something about it," he said.

That quote should be making its rounds of the Internet soon. As always, only time will reveal whether the legislation will prove effective or if it's all just more sturm und drang. The concept is sound, but implementation seems to frequently fall victim to funding problems. Let us wish them well in their efforts. Any steps towards universal health care on the state level have the virtue of testing the viability of the approaches espoused allowing us to form a better picture of what a uniquely American system of universal care will end up looking like.

Now let us shift our view to Sen. John McCain's home state of Arizona. Howard Fischer of Phoenix's East Valley Tribune brings us an interesting story about a battle on the floor of the State House of Representatives.

House Minority Leader Phil Lopes, D-Tucson, said voters should reject an initiative being pushed by some doctors and others to constitutionally prohibit forced enrollment in either private or government-run health insurance programs. The measure also would bar any law which limits an individual's choice of doctors.

"They are trying to protect the system that I think everybody, most people, think is broken," Lopes said.

While Lopes has an interest in stopping this controversial legislation because it would disallow his own universal health care plan for the state, he still has some valid points. If Sen. Obama wins the race for the Oval Office, his proposed mandates, while only involving children, would be directly at odds with this proposed law.

Lopes supports a single payer approach centralizing the payment for health care services through the government. His opponents present an argument that resonates with many Americans, one of independent choice.

But Jeff Singer, a Phoenix surgeon and one of the architects of the initiative, said the measure is not aimed at any specific plan or concept. Nor is it aimed at halting what he said is necessary reform of health care.

"We just want to make sure that whatever kind of health care reform is ultimately instituted, that it doesn't infringe upon the rights of people to make their own decisions regarding what kind of plan they want to be in, or if they want to be in a plan, what kind of health care they want, what kind of doctor they want, whether they want alternative care, whatever," he said.

Emphasis in the above quote is my own.

While I am a fiercely independent individual myself, I have a feeling that enacting universal health care, or at least universal coverage, may well end up requiring mandates in order to ensure that everyone participates. The story above is one that should make everyone consider their exact feelings on the subjects of autonomy, choice, and universal care.

SOURCE: "N.J. 'doing something about' universal health care with law, Corzine says" 07/09/08
SOURCE: "Controversial measure aims to prevent universal health care" 07/08/08
photo courtesy of Alejandro the Great, used under its Creative Commons license

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