Saturday, November 07, 2009

Whatever Happened to the 10th Amendment?

I’ve been listening to the House debate on HR 3962 since it began this morning. This is a rare luxury for me because I usually find myself at work during House debates. But today congressmen are working on a Saturday, giving me the opportunity not only to listen to the progression of a debate, but a very important debate on healthcare reform.

Something keeps coming up at least once or twice per hour, always brought up by some minority Member or another.

The minority bill, it seems includes a provision for health insurance customers to shop across state lines for their insurance. They want Americans, in short, to have that freedom to go across state lines to get healthcare insurance.

This is so very wrong on two related levels.

At present Americans must buy health insurance coverage offered in the state that they reside in. This is because each and every state regulates insurance companies through one state bureaucracy or another. In Texas, health insurance is regulated by something called the Texas Department of Insurance. The Department of Insurance is currently headed by Mike Geeslin, appointed by Governor Perry in May for a 2-year term. Geeslin is a political animal a former staffer with 2 years of experience in the insurance field as a deputy commissioner of insurance policy.

In California, the state of my origin, insurance is regulated (a little more regulated, you might say) by the California Department of Insurance, which is headed by the Insurance Commissioner – an elected position. The current commissioner Steve Poizner, is a Republican who is going to run for governor next year.

States regulate insurance companies within their boundaries just as they regulate public utilities. What seems obvious to me is that should the federal government allow insurance to be bought across state lines, state regulation of these companies goes right out the door.

And this is a problem for me, and should be one for the Republican congressmen who support sales of insurance across state lines.

A problem because this would apparently violate the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Something that Governor Perry and every other teabagging conservative were wildly supportive of earlier this year.

Amendment 10 reads like this:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Now my guess is that insurance has been regulated by states because in the past, the feds have not, for the most part, dappled in this. Medicare and Medicaid being the exceptions, although those are federally regulated programs, and not state ones. My guess is that if insurance can be sold across state lines, this is an abrogation of the 10th Amendment, taking away a power from the states that they have enjoyed for years and years.

So I find it odd, in this case, that the tables are truly turned in this case. As we debate healthcare reform in America on a federal level, I find it odd that conservative lawmakers want to nationalize the whole shebang.

1 comment:

Kenneth D. Franks said...

The Republicans like to pick and choose which things apply to the constitution. They are the party of the money for the money and the people with the money.