Efforts to preserve health care in the Southwest continue
New Mexico is following in Arizona’s footsteps. NM Senator William E. Sharer has introduced Senate bill SJR 1, patterned after Arizona’s “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act” (Proposition 101), that would ensure the freedom of New Mexico residents to purchase private health insurance and to pay directly for lawful medical care. It would make it unconstitutional to penalize or fine someone for choosing to get or decline healthcare coverage or to participate in a particular healthcare system or plan.
As StateHouseCall.org reports, this legislation was proposed as the ultimate check against socialized medicine in a state where residents have no such protections and a Governor intent on enacting a State-run universal managed health care. As Paul Gessing noted, Governor Bill Richardson’s first managed healthcare proposal for the State failed last year. The Governor had promoted it, claiming that about 23% of New Mexicans didn’t have medical insurance — a figure that became disputed when it was revealed that the Southwest has a significant American Indian population serviced by the Indian Health Service, which isn’t counted as “insurance” in keeping with definitions used in health insurance studies.
The Governor’s series of ten separate healthcare bills introduced for the 2009 session creep New Mexico ever closer to State oversight of health care. His new proposals would require agencies that provide insurance for all public employees and retirees to be coordinated to save costs. His reform package focuses on mandated use of electronic medical records, based on the belief they will reduce medical errors and save costs.
It is now in New Mexico legislator’s hands to give the nation the gift of a good example, as George Will described. It would not only protect State residents “against abridgements of their liberties by their State government but also perhaps against comparable actions by the federal government.,” he wrote. “Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute's Center for Constitutional Litigation, believes that if Washington were to enact a national health insurance program of prescriptive regulations, Proposition 101 would trigger an epochal constitutional clash ‘between state sovereignty and national power.’”