The Senate Committee on Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight is considering a proposal that would ask Missourians to vote on a constitutional amendment guaranteeing freedom of choice in health care. Senator Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield) sponsors SJR 25 – the Health Care Freedom Act – which aims to preserve and protect the rights of Missourians to make medical and insurance choices without federal government requirements.

“No person, employer, or health care provider shall be compelled to participate in a health care system ordered by the government,” said Cunningham as she presented her legislation to the committee. “It would protect the rights of Missourians to pay directly for medical services without fines or imprisonment to the individuals or employers.”

Cunningham insists anyone who favors the public option – if it clears Congress and is signed by the President – would be allowed to sign up for it.

“If you wanted to choose the public option you would have the right to under this legislation,” said Cunningham. “Or if you wanted to stay with what you have you would have the right to keep that or choose any of the options that you want.”

Among those speaking out against the legislation was Daniel Landon, Senior Vice President of Governmental Relations with the Missouri Hospital Association, who expressed concern that the lack of a coverage mandate would result in federal dollars headed to Missouri being diverted elsewhere.

“It will go to other states, it will go to whatever they do with it in Washington,” said Landon. “But it’s probably not coming back here if there’s not an ability to mandate that people have coverage.”

Landon fears those who opt not to purchase insurance will show up at hospitals for treatment that must be paid for by the hospitals.

“Our concern is some unknown number of people will not get coverage here,” said Landon. “And they will still show up at our emergency rooms as uninsured.”

No action was taken on the proposal.

Audio: Hearing for SJR 25 (1:00:00 MP3)