Even before an array of national groups and taxpayers mounted a brave and seemingly unwinnable challenge to nationalized health insurance, an Arizona doctor began the fight to strengthen protection for health care freedom at the state level. Three years later, his idea has spread like wildfire.
Eric Novack is a superb orthopedist (as my once-shredded rotator cuff can attest) and a family man with no background in politics and little time for a crusade. But in 2007, he was worried about threats coming down the road to the freedom to practice medicine. He decided to do something about it.
Working with the Dr. Jeffrey Singer and the Goldwater Institute, he drafted the Health Care Freedom Act, which would amend Arizona’s Constitution to protect two essential rights: the freedom not to participate in a government health-insurance system, and the right to directly purchase lawful medical services outside of any insurance system.
Despite being heavily outspent by special-interest groups mobilized, the measure failed on the 2008 ballot by less than one-half of one percent of the vote. Last year, the Legislature referred a revised version to the November 2010 ballot.
Meanwhile, the election of Barack Obama highlighted the threat to health care freedom for everyone. So the American Legislative Exchange Council adopted the Arizona legislation as a model bill. It has been introduced in 36 states, leading both the New York Times and the Washington Post to cover it extensively. Earlier this month, the Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate approved the measure, and other states are moving forward with plans to adopt it.
The act would provide a shield with which states can protect their citizens against excessive federal regulation. The Goldwater Institute has pledged to defend the constitutional amendment against legal challenges if Arizona voters decide to approve it.
And it all started with one man’s good idea—proving once again how big a difference each of us can make.
Clint Bolick is director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.
Goldwater Institute: Questions and answers on the Health Care Freedom Act
Goldwater Institute: States can set up federal fight on health care reform
Azhealthcarefreedom.com: Protecting your healthcare decisions