Support Sought For Health Care Choice Amendment

Group wants to change state constitution to give residents more government health program choices

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Medical Choice for Arizona wants an amendment to the Arizona constitution.

The Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act is a proposal that would allow Arizona residents on government health care programs to have more choice in their coverage, Jeffrey A. Singer, MD, treasurer for Medical Choice for Arizona, said.

"Let's be clear here, we're not talking about health care reform.

"What we‘re talking about today is simply the people's right to choose for themselves what coverage they have, which doctor to see, second opinions on diagnoses, and things like that," Singer said.

Singer made the comment at a meeting of the Citizen's Awareness Committee Monday afternoon in the Payson Library.

Singer, along with the Chairman of Medical Choice for Arizona, Eric Novack, MD, was in Payson to drum up support to get the amendment on the November 2008 ballot.

The amendment prohibits any law from being passed that would restrict a person's freedom of choice of any type of private health care system or plan.

"Medical Choice for Arizona consists of people from across the political spectrum, all of whom want serious reform to our health care system," Novack said.

Not all of the 10 people who attended the meeting agreed with Novack and Singer.

One Payson resident said she was satisfied with the coverage she receives from Medicare.

She said administrative costs for Medicare are only about three percent, compared to an average of about 32 percent for private health insurance.

Medicare's administrative costs are a little higher according to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance.

"Medicare's actual administrative costs are 5.2 percent, when the hidden costs are included," the Council for Affordable Health Insurance Web site said.

They also estimate private health care administrative costs at approximately 20 to 25 percent, instead of 32 percent as suggested at Monday's meeting.

Novack said that while the figures cited are basically accurate, they do not negate the issue of freedom of choice in choosing a health care insurer.

One of the organization's issues with freedom of choice concerns the right to acquire alternative care without having to get permission from Medicare.

As the meeting Monday afternoon ended, Novack and Singer asked residents in attendance to take petitions and help collect the estimated 300,000 signatures needed to get the amendment on the 2008 ballot.

A few residents took petitions as they left the meeting.

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