(Note: The following was posted as a blog entry on the Students for a Free Economy Web site. SFE is a nonpartisan campus outreach project of the Mackinac Center that promotes the benefits of free markets, civil society and individual liberty.)

A well-funded coalition of unions, health care provider cartels and government-takeover advocacy groups are currently collecting signatures for a socialist camel’s-nose-under-the-tent called the "Health Care for Michigan" initiative. The goal of many of its backers is a complete takeover of this state’s health care system along the lines proposed by House Bill 4022, which would establish a government-run "single payer" state health care system.

Here's a better option for Michigan: Enact our own version of the "Medical Choice for Arizona Act" into law instead. Here's the text:

"The right of citizens to enter into private contracts with health care providers for health care services shall not be infringed. No law shall be enacted requiring any citizen, or any class of citizens, to participate in any state sponsored health care system or plan."

Contrast that with the language the "Health Care for Michigan" initiative would insert into the Michigan Constitution if adopted by the people in next November’s general election:

"The State legislature shall pass laws to make sure that every Michigan resident has affordable and comprehensive health care coverage through a fair and cost-effective financing system. The Legislature is required to pass a plan that, through public or private measures, controls health care costs and provides for medically necessary preventive, primary, acute and chronic health care needs."

As the MichiganVotes.org description of the identical version of the initiative introduced in the Legislature explains (House Joint Resolution WW), the measure does not define the terms "affordable," "comprehensive," "fair," "cost-effective" or "medically necessary."

In other words, it's a sneaky way to get something warm-and-fuzzy — really fuzzy — into the Constitution, and then spend the next few years fighting in court about what mandates it actually imposes. If the backers get a sympathetic Supreme Court at some point, voilà, a government takeover of the health care system ensues, and your health care choices will no longer be in your hands, but in those of politicians and bureaucrats.

Should the "Health Care for Michigan" initiative garner sufficient signatures to place it on the ballot this fall, the Legislature should give voters a genuine choice by also placing the "Medical Choice Act" alongside it.

In fact, the Legislature should place the Choice measure on the ballot anyway. In the words of its supporters, "Without the protection and preservation of the rights of people to make their own health care choices, lobbyists and bureaucrats will create rules and regulations that make it harder to get any health care without the approval and authorization of the government and special interests."

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Jack McHugh is senior legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.

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