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I Hate Linux

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Snitch #12: More dissent from within

The news seems to indicate that the health care insurance reform with a 'public option' is largely dead (score one for us!)... now the question comes in of just how much we (the American people) allow them to ram through in their second attempt.

Tonight's snitch gives some ideas as to what such real reform should include:

From: Brendan Grant
Sent: Sunday, August 16, 2009 10:04 PM
To: flag@whitehouse.gov
Subject: Secretary Sebelius and her distrust of the free market

During a time when the public option of the current health care insurance debate is becoming more and more unpopular... and may even be dead say some (http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/sen.-conrad-public-option-a-wasted-effort-2009-08-16.html) that Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services uses the opportunity to belittle the private insurance industry once again.

I do apologize... but must take a couple of snippets of her appearance on CNN this weekend and some statements she made and discuss them with you as the whole thing was rather fishy: http://www.politico.com/singletitlevideo.html?bcpid=1155201977&bctid=34089722001

> What I think is important is choice and competition

While few will disagree with that statement on the surface, the mechanism of doing that is in the question. Rather than... bring in one single government option, why not throw the field open to even more competition?

Never forget that one of the biggest hindrances to competition in the insurance market is not the companies themselves... but the states that not only put expensive mandates in place as to what a given policy must include (even when few would willingly purchase such coverage if given the choice), but also helps to prevent insurance plans being purchased in one state and used in another.

Why should I as a Washington State resident be forced to buy insurance from a company here... when I can buy a car from a company in Michigan, a TV from a company in New York, and a computer in California... and still use them all just as easily and fully as I would if I were to purchase them locally?

While I am not a lawyer... I would think that the various state regulations out there likely run afoul of Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the US Constitution which says:

>[The Congress shall have power] To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes

After all, one of the reasons that the Articles of Confederation were replaced by the Constitution was because some of the states were not only engaging in their own foreign policy... but also limiting inter-state commerce through their own taxes and regulation of ‘imports’ and businesses beyond what the framers intended.

You’d think that such federal intervention in this case would be popular with the current President and Congress... why not do so? Why not open up the insurance market in one state to competition from the other 49?

Furthermore, why not expand the COBRA program and allow more people to maintain their insurance after they leave their job and not just the 18 months mandated by federal law?

Of course a better option would make it easier for an individual to buy their own insurance... and while that is possible to day (though more expensive than getting it through ones employer), why not remove the advantage that employers have over people and change the tax system and even the playing field?

Today employers are able to deduct the cost of subsidizing health insurance to their employees, and the employees are able to use pre-tax dollars to pay for their premiums. Not so if the employee decides to get insurance on their own elsewhere, instead they are paying with post tax dollars which effectively raises the cost of such a purchase, but also reduces the incentive of people to do so on their own, lowering the risk pools and ultimately raising prices even more.

And of course... there is tort reform... but then this administration and congress hasn’t been all that willing to talk about it. Any reason why?

>You don’t turn over the whole new marketplace to private insurance companies and trust them to do the new thing

This is the fishy she said... she seems to be making the assumption that private insurance companies do not at present compete with each other... and that a single government run entity would be able to do what a couple hundred years of a mostly free market in this country hasn’t been able to do.

Why is that? More so to go back to one of my points above, why not stop allowing the states to continue to disrupt interstate commerce and enable an insurance company in Tennessee to sell their health insurance anywhere in the nation?

There are countless things that can be done to improve the options of the American people to have even better and more competitive and complete access to health insurance (and health care)... and yet you have so refused to take any of those steps other than even contemplating.

Brendan Grant
Redmond, WA

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