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Brewer health insurance bill veto was a mistake

Rather than respond to Henry Grosjean’s commentary (Brewer was right to veto health insurance bill, 5/27) in-kind with an ad hominem attack on his intelligence, I will respond to his claims and why the governor’s veto of SB1593 was a mistake that will have adverse consequences for the 1.3 million Arizonans with no insurance today, and for the thousands of small businesses being crushed under the weight of ever-increasing premiums.  

First, the mandate issue borders on being a red herring. Sixty percent of all Arizonans with private insurance today (about 1.6 million) are not subject to Arizona mandates, and in many cases have much better coverage for so-called mandated diseases than Arizona requires.  For example, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ plan covers licensed therapy for autism up to age 21, while the state only requires it up to age 16 (and for businesses with more than 50 employees).

Additionally, Democrats who voted against SB1593 supported HB2666, the health insurance exchange bill that, in section 20-3214 (G), explicitly eliminates state coverage mandates.

And, yes, many other factors contribute to cost, including local cost of care, government regulation, and lack of competition.

The bill would have given many Arizonans more choices for health insurance. The difference of $20 or $30 per month in premiums is often the difference between purchasing insurance and going without for many families.  For others, being able to choose policies from states where there are more mandated coverages (Arizona is in the middle at 33, Rhode Island leads with 69), will get them insurance that better fits their needs.

The bill also would have allowed small businesses to expand from other states to Arizona without losing their insurance — a solution that would provide Arizona a competitive advantage over other states.

When it comes to consumer protections, the provisions in the final bill include every suggestion made by the governor’s staff during the months of negotiations and stakeholder meetings.  These include the issues Grosjean raises in his op-ed.

There is always the possibility that a small number of people could be adversely impacted by an out of state insurer — but how many already have issues with their current plans?  And, again, this neglects to consider the 

1.3 million with no insurance who may have an opportunity to find an affordable policy.

Every Arizona family that gets bumped from the commercial insurance rolls for whatever reason is another that further collapses our failing safety net health care system. 

The veto is not the end, of course.  Along with dozens of legislators and millions of Arizonans, I will work to find common ground with the governor so we can achieve our shared goal: health care reform that puts patients and families in control, and not politicians and their pals.

— Eric Novack, MD, has over 25 years of patient care experience from EMT to orthopedic surgeon, was chairman of the Prop 106 Campaign in 2010 and is chairman of the US Health Freedom Coalition.

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