Organizers of an effort to guarantee healthcare choices in Missouri are gearing up to collect signatures to put the idea on the November, 2010 ballot. A group known as Missourians United for Choice in Healthcare (MUCH) believes choosing a healthcare provider is a fundamental principle of health care reform.
Holly Cuoco, a cancer survivor, is President of MUCH. She says that while so many Americans are taking part in the current healthcare debate, this idea transcends the national discussion. And, she wants Missouri to join more than 30 other states that have already approved some form of protection of choice.
"Missouri is kind of lagging behind," said Cuoco in an interview with the Missourinet. "There are 31 states in the United States that already have these laws that protect patients in a similar fashion – and most of the bordering states to Missouri have this."
Cuoco wants a Missouri patient to be allowed to keep his or her doctor if the patient changes jobs or loses a job.
"It’s about patients," said Cuoco. "That’s my concern, that patients across the whole state of Missouri get to make some of those choices with their doctor – instead of an insurance company."
The Secretary of State’s Office has cleared MUCH’s petition for circulation, allowing MUCH to get going on collecting about 155,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot.
"We’ll start getting all those signatures the rest of this year and then next spring, by May," said Cuoco. "Hopefully, that will give us time to educate people in Missouri as to what this is really all about – it’s about trying to allow them to choose their doctor – have that right."
Supporters of choice have tried, in the past, to move the idea through the General Assembly. But the idea has stalled, so organizers are taking the initiative petition route.
The formula for getting constitutional changes on the November, 2010 ballot calls for signatures to be collected from registered voters – with the number equal to eight percent of the total votes cast in the 2008 Governor’s election – and those signatures must come from six of the state’s nine congressional districts. The signatures must be submitted by May 2nd.