Sunday, March 07, 2010

Healthcare Reform: A States’ Rights Issue

Politics, and filthy lucre, make strange bedfellows sometimes. This is too true when it comes to the Republican mantra on healthcare reform. “Want to save money on health insurance,” they ask, “allow insurance companies to sell health insurance across state lines.” At first blush this seems to be a reasonable idea, even a liberal one.

That’s what got me suspicious of this notion. Why, I asked myself, would these anti-big government pro-local control ideologues be suddenly be all big government federalists?

Right now, the individual states regulate insurance within their borders. All states have insurance commissioners of some sort of another. Individual states have mandates over what an insurer must cover and what is optional.

For example, in California health insurance companies are required to offer coverage when someone wants a second opinion before going through a surgical procedure. In Texas, insurers are not required to offer that coverage. So a Texas insurance company could not sell insurance to a Californian by California law, unless it offered the coverage that California mandates.

This is the epitome of a states’ rights issue. Republicans, it would seem, are now arguing for centralization of insurance regulation at the federal level.

Or are they?

Actually not. Actually Republicans are not arguing for more regulation of the insurance industry, but less. That’s right, the same logic and reasoning that saw the repeal of Glass-Steagall, deregulating the banking industry giving us the economic trough we are in today is being argued on healthcare reform.

If the insurance industry is allowed to do the same thing as, say, the credit card industry here is the expected scenario. A small conservative state like Utah or South Dakota would approach, say, Humana and offer to let them write the law that regulates their industry. Their small, conservative legislature would pass it, their conservative governor would sign it, and Americans would be treated to the least beneficial healthcare plans possible. And rather than have, say United Health Care rise to the occasion and offer a plan that competes with Humana’s, they would move their corporate offices to Provo or Pierre.

Why would Republicans want to do this to Americans? Are they truly mean, heartless people who really don’t care what happens to Americans? Are they truly only looking after themselves and their friends? Do they truly only worship at the altar of the almighty dollar?

They say no. They say that they are the only responsible people in government and it is their duty to reign in the wild spending ways of we progressives.

But really, all you have to do is follow the money. Actions speak louder than words. When the actions of Republicans run up against one of their core red meat issues, states' rights, you have to wonder where the skeletons are buried.
And who gets to keep the money.


Anonymous said...

The bill that ultimately repealed the Act was introduced in the Senate by Phil Gramm (Republican of Texas) and in the House of Representatives by Jim Leach (R-Iowa) in 1999. The bills were passed by a Republican majority, basically following party lines by a 54–44 vote in the Senate[12] and by a bi-partisan 343–86 vote in the House of Representatives.[13] After passing both the Senate and House the bill was moved to a conference committee to work out the differences between the Senate and House versions. The final bill resolving the differences was passed in the Senate 90–8 (one not voting) and in the House: 362–57 (15 not voting). The legislation was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on November 12, 1999.[14]

The banking industry had been seeking the repeal of Glass–Steagall since at least the 1980s. In 1987 the Congressional Research Service prepared a report which explored the cases for and against preserving the Glass–Steagall act.[8]

Hal said...

Nice cut and paste from Wikipedia.

And your point is . . . ?

When I wrote the words "Republican-incepted repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act" I wasn't wrong, was I? It was the brainchild of Texas Senator Phil Gramm. Gramm's wife was in banking. Gramm knew what he was doing.

Democrats are bipartisan when they want to be and they went along, particularly because they had little choice in the matter. Democrats don't want to look like the party of No, after all.

And who was chief of staff of Gramm's aides back then? None other than Pete Olson. Yes, my congressman was there when the bill that brought on the near economic collapse of the United States, and other countries was designed.