Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 17, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Medical Choices for Arizona


  • An initiative being evaluated for inclusion on the November ballot would guarantee Arizonans a right to make their own choices for health coverage and health insurance, according to the backers of the Initiative. Dr. Eric Novak, chairman of the "Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act" will discuss the proposal.
Guests:
  • Dr. Eric Novak - Chairman, Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act
Category: Medical/Health

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
One of the ballot measures you might be voting on this November is called the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act. Backers say it would change the Constitution to prohibit laws that limit choices on health care or health care insurance. Those against the measure say it would stop universal health care in Arizona. Here to talk about it is Dr. Eric Novak, the chairman if the initiative. Thank you for joining us.

Eric Novak:
Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons:
Why is this important?

Eric Novak:
It is essentially important. It is important that everyone out there read it themselves. Invariably over the next four months will be a lot of misinformation. And it's essentially important because everybody across the political spectrum believes with certainty that the current trajectory of our health care system is unsustainable. The question is what is it going to look like? Now you and I know and everyone out there understands that when legislation gets made, it is all about the interest groups getting a piece of the pie. When you look at $40 billion in health care in this state alone, four times the size of the budget, a lot of people will be grabbing at it. The one group that will be left out are actual individual patients.

Ted Simons:
Which interests and lobbyists concern you?


Eric Novak:
All of them. Insurance providers, if you can think of it - everyone wants a piece of this $40 billion healthcare pie in Arizona. And so its all of them together. All we're saying is that, the first stage of healthcare reform or even a cornerstone upon which universal healthcare is built needs to be the protection and preservation of individuals to be in charge of their healthcare.

Ted Simons:
And yet critics will say that this initiative tries to protect a broken system.

Eric Novak:
I would encourage every person out there to read the language themselves. It really doesn't do that at all. Again, really what it does is limit the ability of the Legislature, Bureaucrats and special interest in back room deals down at the state house from sacrificing my right to get a second opinion, choose alternative care, choose the care I want for my children. They will sacrifice those rights on the alter of healthcare of reform. When again what they're really doing is trying to save as much as they can for themselves.

Ted Simons:
Universal health care obviously has been talked about at the capitol. Again, a criticism is that this initiative basically is a way to circumvent that.

Eric Novak:
We would make the case, and we do strongly make the case with our supporters across the political spectrum. Again, we're not promoting health care reform per se. There are creative, intelligent people with solutions for health care. If you look at the language and what it says, I don't know that it's not much different than the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It doesn't prevent involvement in freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion. It simply says there is a basic right to be in charge of your speech. We're simply saying that the health care reform needs to be built on the protection of individual rights because those rights will be lost.

Ted Simons:
Under a universal system, everyone has to be in it, doctors, I would think, de facto, would pretty much all be in it, most of them, I would think. If you are my doctor under a universal system, why would I not have the choice of choosing you?

Eric Novak:
It a question of how we define universal. Again I don't want to dive into what people mean by universal health care. I think we might leave that to some of the critics for you to ask them the specific questions of the genuine limitations that will actually occur. This is not a doctor initiative. I am a physician. There is nothing in this that is any upside for me professionally. It means more for me as a patient, parent, than anything professionally.


Ted Simons:
You emphasized the word choice, under that system, we will move away from that one. Under a current system, if I have a certain medical plan by way of my employer and I want you as my physician, you may or may not be on that plan, and that is not much of a choice.

Eric Novak:
I am not convinced and having the government come in, and some bureaucrat who you never meet or your family member never meets who is going to be there and make all of the rules forcing you to only get the care you provide. Remember what will come out of this is genuine control over every dollar you spend on health care. With the $40 billion number you hear critics talk about includes every health care service you can imagine, going down to Walgreens and buying Advil. They want to control where that money goes. I would make the case that I am not convinced that for people out there seeking out the care that they want, this doesn't mean freedom of choice in the health care act, is not intending to say Ted Simons, Eric Novak, go get what you want wherever you want, it says you can opt out of a government run system for whatever reason you might find it object able. If you want to spend your own money directly for a service, you have the right to do that.

Ted Simons:
Who is behind this initiative?

Eric Novak:
This is a genuine Arizona grass roots initiative. There is no big corporate interest; there is no big union interest. There is no big organizational interest. This is -- started here in Arizona as being funded by effectively the hard work of lots of people to go out and get it and individuals for the most part who have had direct contact with the health care system as a patient.

Ted Simons:
Alright well doctor, thank you so much for joining us.

Eric Novak:
Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons:
Thank you for joining us.

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