Sunday, September 23, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

The following is a recent editorial from the Orange County Register:

Sunday, September 23, 2007
Today's editorial: On health care, beware what you wish for
Demagogues preying on natural fears have created a false sense of urgency for government-sponsored medical system.
An Orange County Register editorial

A recent poll informs us that nearly 70 percent of Californians believe the state's health care system needs major changes.

It's apparently such an urgent problem, say pollsters from the Public Policy Institute of California, that three fourths of those people are willing to buy into Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to heavily tax employers, health care providers and individuals to fix the perceived problem.

One might think health care is being denied these people. But virtually no one in California goes without health care. And, as syndicated columnist Mark Steyn notes on page 4 today, the vast majority who want health insurance have it, and it's generally paid for by someone else. So what's going on here?

There is a problem with the system. It's built on sand, as editorial writer Mark Landsbaum's page 1 column today explains. We shouldn't be surprised after decades of relying on others to pay our way, the institution of health care is teetering.

Private employers find it increasingly expensive to offer the full range of insurance coverage their employees expect, let alone to keep up with demands for new coverage for every conceivable medical treatment. Insurance usually is tied to employment, so when people lose jobs they lose insurance. Because insurers are forced to sell the full range of coverage, there's little leeway to tailor economical, a la carte packages beneficiaries might prefer. Hospital emergency rooms are closing because many who can't afford insurance use them as their family doctors. Fear of losing one's life savings is motive enough for most of us to cling desperately to a guarantee health insurance provides against financial devastation, should we develop a catastrophic illness.

It's a scenario ripe for demagoguery. There's no shortage of those ready to exploit, from Gov. Schwarzenegger to Hillary Clinton (as the Cato Institute's Michael Cannon and Michael Tanner explain on page 1 today). The growing sense of urgency works to the advantage of those sounding the "government to the rescue" bugle call.

But if there's anything Californians, indeed Americans, should avoid, it's being stampeded into more government control over your health care. Rather than turn over your health care, insurance protection and personal choices to faceless, unaccountable government bureaucrats, now's the time to demand that bureaucracy begin releasing its grip on the system.

It's taken more than a half century to pervert the health care free market. The mess won't be cleaned up overnight. But to rush into even more of what corrupted the system will move us even farther in the wrong direction. A reasoned, systematic loosening of government's grip can prevent disaster. Now's a good time to begin.

Government should revoke all mandates limiting insurers' flexibility to meet market demand, and in that way greatly reduce costs. Insurance should be portable, rather than provided through employers, particularly when people change jobs an average of 10 times between the ages 18 and 38. Without government interference, people could shop for catastrophic coverage, if that's all they want, rather than pay top dollar for broad coverage with low-deductibles.

There will be challenges even the free market will struggle with, such as expensive, high-risk coverage for people with pre-existing, bad health. But once the market straightens out for the bulk of us, such issues can be dealt with more effectively and economically. Insurers and health care providers, out from under the costly, oppressive regulation of government, could very well find it in their own interest to create insurance pools for high-risk patients. Especially if doing it voluntarily keeps the government out. We urge everyone concerned with the teetering institution of health care to urge their elected representatives to turn away from more government, and toward more freedom.

John Pack
Low Cost Health Insurance

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hillary Clinton Health Plan

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently unveiled her proposed plan for healthcare reform. You can read the Clinton campaign's summary of their plan by visiting their website:

Hillary Clinton's Health Plan

John Pack
Low Cost Health Insurance

Monday, September 10, 2007

No Late Deals on our Health Care

The following is an article reprinted from the September 10 issue of the Orange County Register and written by Mike Villines, State Assembly GOP leader. You can visit his website linked through the title of this article for more information on California health care issues or visit this website for current updates: Republican Assembly on Health Care Reform

Monday, September 10, 2007
Mike Villines: No late deals on our health care
When it comes to health care: slow down, listen, and think.
State assembly GOP leader

If history can teach us anything, it's that cutting deals at the last minute and rushing half-baked deals through the Legislature at the 11th hour is a recipe for failure – especially when it involves something as important and complex as California's health care system.

Remember energy deregulation? At the time, lawmakers touted the sweeping legislation as a plan that would lower costs and improve service for all. A few years later, Californians were stuck paying billons of dollars for these empty promises, forced to endure rolling blackouts and record budget deficits, while paying higher rates for inferior service.

Unfortunately, history seems to be repeating itself this year with the end-of-session push to pass health care legislation. Press accounts have revealed that Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Democrats are preparing to cut a deal on a harmful plan that could increase your insurance rates by up to 40 percent, hurt businesses and jobs, and lead to higher taxes for all Californians. Worst of all, not only is this plan being put together out of the public eye, it will ultimately not provide more access to care.

Before the governor and Democrats ram through a government health care scheme without legislative scrutiny or public input, I think it's important that we all take a step back and think through the impact our actions will have on health care in our state for generations. If we proceed in passing this hastily crafted plan, we will be repeating the colossal mistakes of the past and make the current problems far worse. Does that make sense to you?

The experiences in other countries, like Canada, show that we could face a rationing of care while government bureaucrats decide what treatments you can receive. Patients could be forced to wait several months just to receive basic health services, such as a routine MRI. Seniors with serious illnesses could be denied life-saving treatments if they are determined to not be "cost-effective."

By imposing massive tax increases, including a jobs tax on every California business and a sales tax increase on all Californians, government health care will cause taxpayers to feel pain where it hurts most – their wallets.

Those who already have insurance will see their rates increase. One of California's major health insurance providers says this plan will force them to raise premiums on nearly all of the 600,000 individuals who buy coverage from them. Younger, healthier Californians could see their premiums rise as much as 50 percent! Again I ask, does this make sense to you?

There are also serious legal flaws in this plan. It may violate the federal ERISA law, which forbids states from forcing companies to provide specific health benefits to their workers or pay a jobs tax. A similar plan in Maryland was thrown out in court for violating ERISA, yet Democrats refuse to hold a hearing on the legality of this plan.

Not that long ago Gov. Schwarzenegger declared, "A tax increase would be the final nail in California's financial coffin." Assembly Republicans agree that raising taxes to pay for expanded government health care is the wrong approach.

It's time for all of us to take a deep breath and realize just what's at stake this year. A partisan vote that ignores the serious problems with their plan is not the way to reform health care. We don't need to rush through flawed legislation at the last minute just for the sake of headlines. Policy by press release is never a good idea. Lawmakers can and must take the time to do this right. There is a lot we can to together to provide more access and choice to quality care while reducing costs, without raising taxes or expanding the size of government.

Mike Villines, of Fresno, is the Republican Leader of the California State Assembly. He represents the 29th Assembly District in the State Legislature.

John Pack
Low Cost Health Insurance