Commentary Magazine


Topic: Health Insurance Rate Authority

RE: The Latest Same ObamaCare Bill

I certainly agree with Jennifer that the latest iteration of a health-care bill out of the White House is same-old same-old.

There is basically just one new idea, and it’s a terrible one — the Health Insurance Rate Authority. This board would have the power to roll back health-insurance-premium hikes that were “unreasonable.” Needless to say, the definition of “unreasonable” would be determined by politicians, who would take political considerations (there are a lot more health-care buyers than sellers), not economic ones, into account. That’s why rent controls have been everywhere and always a disaster. The result will be that every health-insurance company in the country will go broke (which is probably what the Obama administration has in mind anyway, come to think of it).

Worse, health-insurance companies can’t compete in terms of price anyway, thanks to state price-fixing. (Thought experiment: If you watch television, you can’t get through an hour without seeing six automobile-insurance commercials, because auto-insurance companies compete fiercely in terms of price. But how many health-insurance commercials do you see? The only ones are for Medicare supplemental insurance, which is not price controlled, at least as of now.)

The people have spoken just as clearly as they can about what they think of the health-care bills that have already, if barely, passed the House and Senate. Many members of each chamber will have to be willing to commit political suicide to pass this one.  Like Jennifer, I’d be surprised. Very surprised.

I certainly agree with Jennifer that the latest iteration of a health-care bill out of the White House is same-old same-old.

There is basically just one new idea, and it’s a terrible one — the Health Insurance Rate Authority. This board would have the power to roll back health-insurance-premium hikes that were “unreasonable.” Needless to say, the definition of “unreasonable” would be determined by politicians, who would take political considerations (there are a lot more health-care buyers than sellers), not economic ones, into account. That’s why rent controls have been everywhere and always a disaster. The result will be that every health-insurance company in the country will go broke (which is probably what the Obama administration has in mind anyway, come to think of it).

Worse, health-insurance companies can’t compete in terms of price anyway, thanks to state price-fixing. (Thought experiment: If you watch television, you can’t get through an hour without seeing six automobile-insurance commercials, because auto-insurance companies compete fiercely in terms of price. But how many health-insurance commercials do you see? The only ones are for Medicare supplemental insurance, which is not price controlled, at least as of now.)

The people have spoken just as clearly as they can about what they think of the health-care bills that have already, if barely, passed the House and Senate. Many members of each chamber will have to be willing to commit political suicide to pass this one.  Like Jennifer, I’d be surprised. Very surprised.

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The Latest Same ObamaCare Bill

Obama has put forth another version of ObamaCare, but it’s not even sufficient to be scored by the CBO. The CBO website explains:

This morning the Obama Administration released a description of its health care proposal, and CBO has already received several requests to provide a cost estimate for that proposal. We had not previously received the proposal, and we have just begun the process of reviewing it—a process that will take some time, given the complexity of the issues involved. Although the proposal reflects many elements that were included in the health care bills passed by the House and the Senate last year, it modifies many of those elements and also includes new ones. Moreover, preparing a cost estimate requires very detailed specifications of numerous provisions, and the materials that were released this morning do not provide sufficient detail on all of the provisions. Therefore, CBO cannot provide a cost estimate for the proposal without additional detail, and, even if such detail were provided, analyzing the proposal would be a time-consuming process that could not be completed this week.

We do have some idea what’s in it, however. Matt Continetti explains: “Obama’s new, improved plan is more expensive than the Senate bill, does not address the concerns of pro-life House Democrats over the Senate’s abortion language, maintains the tax exemption for the Democrats’ union friends, and will effectively turn insurance companies into heavily regulated public utilities.”

What we do know is that under ObamaCare’s latest incarnation, you really don’t get to keep your existing health-care plan. And we know that it seeks to federalize the regulation of the health-insurance industry. (“The big new idea in the president’s plan is to federalize regulation of health insurance, creating a Health Insurance Rate Authority to conduct ‘reviews of unreasonable rate increases and other unfair practices of insurance plans.’ This reflects the overall strategy to give more and more control over the health sector to Washington.”) And it seems that there are $136B worth of new taxes to be imposed on the people Obama said he’d never tax, namely those families making less than $250,000.

What we don’t know is why anyone who opposed the last version(s) of ObamaCare would accept this one. It is still a mammoth tax-and-spend bill and still seeks to federalize health care. If Nancy Pelosi has 218 votes for this, I’d be surprised. If Senate Democrats want to walk the plank for a retread of the bill that voters in Massachusetts sent Scott Brown to the Senate to oppose, I’d be surprised. But I suppose we’ll find out.

Obama has put forth another version of ObamaCare, but it’s not even sufficient to be scored by the CBO. The CBO website explains:

This morning the Obama Administration released a description of its health care proposal, and CBO has already received several requests to provide a cost estimate for that proposal. We had not previously received the proposal, and we have just begun the process of reviewing it—a process that will take some time, given the complexity of the issues involved. Although the proposal reflects many elements that were included in the health care bills passed by the House and the Senate last year, it modifies many of those elements and also includes new ones. Moreover, preparing a cost estimate requires very detailed specifications of numerous provisions, and the materials that were released this morning do not provide sufficient detail on all of the provisions. Therefore, CBO cannot provide a cost estimate for the proposal without additional detail, and, even if such detail were provided, analyzing the proposal would be a time-consuming process that could not be completed this week.

We do have some idea what’s in it, however. Matt Continetti explains: “Obama’s new, improved plan is more expensive than the Senate bill, does not address the concerns of pro-life House Democrats over the Senate’s abortion language, maintains the tax exemption for the Democrats’ union friends, and will effectively turn insurance companies into heavily regulated public utilities.”

What we do know is that under ObamaCare’s latest incarnation, you really don’t get to keep your existing health-care plan. And we know that it seeks to federalize the regulation of the health-insurance industry. (“The big new idea in the president’s plan is to federalize regulation of health insurance, creating a Health Insurance Rate Authority to conduct ‘reviews of unreasonable rate increases and other unfair practices of insurance plans.’ This reflects the overall strategy to give more and more control over the health sector to Washington.”) And it seems that there are $136B worth of new taxes to be imposed on the people Obama said he’d never tax, namely those families making less than $250,000.

What we don’t know is why anyone who opposed the last version(s) of ObamaCare would accept this one. It is still a mammoth tax-and-spend bill and still seeks to federalize health care. If Nancy Pelosi has 218 votes for this, I’d be surprised. If Senate Democrats want to walk the plank for a retread of the bill that voters in Massachusetts sent Scott Brown to the Senate to oppose, I’d be surprised. But I suppose we’ll find out.

Read Less




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