An Effective Response on Health Care

Those who wish to oppose the current health reform plan wending its way through Congress will not succeed simply by opposing the current bill, nor by offering an equally complex alternative bill. This is a major mistake being made by those in Congress who are not ready to back the overhaul currently being proposed (mostly Republicans). The only hope is to offer a simple bill that can gain wide support and propose to pass it as a first step to real health care (or health insurance) reform.

A simple bill allowing the purchase of health insurance from other states could be just exactly the medicine this health care reform fiasco needs to turn it from the current monstrosity to a real, effective push for sustainable reform. This could not be a full solution to our health care problems but it could be an easily understandable bill that could gain wide support and show clearly that those opposing the bill being thrust upon us now are serious about reform and offering clear alternatives. In fact, such a bill plays directly to the president’s latest soundbite that the important thing to satisfy the President is that there be “choice and competition in the health insurance market.” (See remarks by Robert Gibbs among others.)

Perhaps passing such a bill would be just the thing to get the White House and Congressional leaders to come back to the bargaining table and work with the rest of Congress on this issue to get bipartisan reform (and preferably to approach reform as a series of small, easily understood bills passed in succession) instead of trying to craft their preferred bill (hiding who knows what in a massive reform bill that few people have read and nobody truly understands) and then trying to convince some Republicans to support it so that they can call it bipartisan.

I wrote to my congressional representatives to say as much. I told them:

Republicans in the House and the Senate should be able to put together such a bill (likely only one or two pages) and a coalition of support and be ready to present it in both houses of Congress as soon as the August recess is over. I’d like to see all my representatives sponsoring or cosponsoring such a bill within the first week after the Congressional session resumes.

For anyone who would like to send a similar message to their representatives (anywhere in the nation) they can do so by going to the Make Health Insurance More Affordable campaign from Downsize D.C.

13 comments for “An Effective Response on Health Care

  1. Scott Miller
    August 18, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I agree. There is a 1,000+ page bill in Congress’ hands. I have tried to read and I have only been able to get through parts of it because I don’t have the time. It gets lost in a maze of lawyerly double-speak and cross-references to existing laws. Think about this for a moment: that bill could be broken down into 20 50-page bills, or 50 20-page bills. This issue will be a catastrophy if not broken down into more meaningful pieces that can each be analyzed, tested and debated. The very idea that 1,000 pages of new law will reduce cost and improve quality is idiocy and arrogance of the highest level. Hey, but what’s a trillion dollars here and a trillion dollars there? I never thought we would get to the point where $1 billion is almost like the petty cash fund at the office.

    • August 18, 2009 at 1:02 pm

      You mentioned that the 1000 page bill could theoretically be split up into fifty 20-page bills. I would like to point out that we could almost certainly address 40 of those 50 smaller bills individually at very little cost. The result could be that we get 85% of the change we want for 3% of the cost of the whole bill and we would discover that 85% gain for 3% cost would be a vast improvement in the views of most people over any of the omnibus approaches.

  2. Scott Miller
    August 18, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Exactly! But if you are a politician, what would be the fun of that? It would require more work, it would remove hysterical claims, and it would remove the ability to politicize and polarize people.

    • August 18, 2009 at 3:04 pm

      If they don’t want to do the work I would be happy to take over. Being a representative (or any other elected official) is not supposed to be easy or fun – it’s supposed to be work. I have to do the work to look over their shoulders all the time, I’d just as soon do the work because it was my job.

  3. Scott Miller
    August 18, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I think you would make an exceptional representative. However, would you be willing to put your family through the stress? Nonetheless, as you have written before, it is our responsibility to continue the fight for liberty that our Founding Fathers started and that may be your just cause during your life.

    • August 18, 2009 at 5:08 pm

      The only option would be if I had the full support of my family – I could never consider putting them through such an awesome challenge without them being fully supportive of the idea. In some ways I feel that question means little unless I knew that I would be taken seriously as a candidate. From what I have seen it looks like the only candidates viewed as serious are those who have bought into the celebrity politician view of what an elected official is supposed to be.

  4. August 18, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    I disagree that opponents of the current government power grab can’t stop it simply by opposing it. Of course they can. This kind of thing happens all of the time. In fact, this may be the opponents’ best option, since there is no guarantee that the opponents could even generate sufficient agreement among them on anything else.

    The problem with the bill to allow purchase of health insurance across state lines is that it treads on well established state laws. If you’re a believer in limited government, you think that the federal government should keep its nose out of areas of state jurisdiction. Insurance is one of those (increasingly rare) areas that falls mostly under the jurisdiction of the states. If you don’t want another big federal government constitution-busting law, you’d have to reform the laws in all of the individual states to bring this off.

    • August 18, 2009 at 5:17 pm

      Simply opposing the bill may succeed, but I still think that uniting behind a simple, understandable alternative approach (since there definitely are problems that need to be addressed) would have a better chance of showing that they are not simply opposing the bill but actively working on the problem.

      I can see that you would be concerned with the Federal government stomping on the territory of state governments. If there is another needed improvement that people can rally around I would be happy to support it.

  5. Scott Miller
    August 18, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    The key to solving the states’ issue is to get the governors and legislatures of the states to collaborate and come up with economic compacts and market those to the insurance companies. That appropriately pulls the power back into the states, and helps the individual state governments work on behalf of their constituents. Such an action is no different than the tax incentives that governments give companies to relocate, or the efforts that will go into getting a professional sports franchise. The governors and legislators need to understand the economic gains that would be realized by working with the insurance companies to work regionally. I could see great advantages to a compact of the Western states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming to collaborate. They already do such things when it comes to recongnizing college tuitions among these states.

    • August 18, 2009 at 5:41 pm

      That’s a great idea – it would work best if they could start implementing it before the Federal Government gets a bill passed – that would require defeating the current effort and making sure the states continued to work on this issue after it had temporarily died federally (as they generally failed to do after the Clinton effort died).

  6. August 18, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    A number of larger insurance companies have been lobbying Congress to appoint a national insurance commission that would supersede all state commissions. They want insurers to be allowed to choose which set of rules to follow: the national rules or the state rules. Right now, insurers have to deal with 51 sets of rules. Wouldn’t it be better if they just had to cope with one set?

    The problems with this legislation include: Its main goal is to harm smaller insurers that currently compete against the big guys in state markets. These guys can operate in a few state markets efficiently, but would be killed by the big conglomorates under national rules. The result would be less consumer choice. That’s bad. Creating a national insurance commission would extend the federal government into yet another unconstitutional role and would stomp all over state sovereignty.

    Conversely, I like Scott Miller’s idea that states could willingly agree to compacts on interstate insurance exchanges with no federal legislation. As soon as this happens, however, it would be license for the federal government to regulate insurance as interstate commerce.

    Allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines makes great economic sense. I’m just not sure that it would work out so well in practice once the federal government got its insidious tentacles into the equation.

  7. Scott Miller
    August 18, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    I am not opposed to the idea of a national insurance commission just as long as the federal government does not have the ability to influence the decisions. You are absolutely right that 51 sets of rules are exponentially more difficult to deal with. I also agree that there needs to be an ability to compete and avoid monopolies. All of these things cannot happen without government intervention, and yet when the government gets involved, it invariably screws it up.

    I think you are right that allowing insurance plans to cross interstate lines makes economic sense. But absent a meaningful economic incentive, the government(s) would have to legislate. Somewhere in this equation is an appropriate balance between states and federal government involvement, and companies competing. That is the biggest problem in this entire healthcare debate–the usurping of power by the federal government. It is like the New York Yankees competing against Dixie College–a completely disproportionate allocation of power.

    We need to work to keep the federal government out of this equation except to the extent of the Constitutional framework of providing for the general welfare.

    • August 19, 2009 at 6:10 am

      There is absolutely zero chance that we could get a national insurance commission and not have the federal government begin to step in and influence the decisions.

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