Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Joe Barton Hits, Misses

Over at RedState, Rep Joe Barton (R-TX), opines on the potential future of ObamaCare© under the (not so) tender ministrations of a Republican House. He scores with his suggestion that the bill itself be repealed [ed: fat chance of that, for now], and offers what he considers some good alternatives for future consideration. It's with some of these "suggestions" that I take issue:

■ "ban insurers from rescinding coverage when their policyholders get sick and need to use their insurance."

This is an oft-repeated but discredited canard. The reality is that there are already laws in place which prohibit this. About the closest one can find to a "real life" example might be association plans, but these are not, in fact, contractual agreements between the carrier and the insured.

■ "an updated Patients’ Right to Know Act makes sense so that patients can know the actual price and quality of the care when making their healthcare decisions."

Again, we've been vocal and vociferous proponents of transparency for many, many years. The reality is that it doesn't take another gummint mandate for this to occur - the marketplace itself has already begun to ensure its widespread acceptance. It also fails to recognize that these tools, in and of themselves, are of limited value.

■ "Purchasing health insurance across state lines"

This is another problematic "solution:" the very first roadblock on the way to that utopia is called McCarran-Ferguson, which our own Mike Feehan explains "was enacted primarily to maintain each state’s right to regulate insurance issued for its residents ... Complete repeal of McCarran-Ferguson would remove the limited exemption from federal antitrust regulation this law requires for the insurance industry . It would of course pave the way for complete federal regulation of insurance." Which would apparently put Rep Barton squarely in the ObamaCare© camp. Ooops.

I would also add that his gratuitous slam that "Only in the restrictive world of health insurance do we find that goods and services don’t flow from one state to another state without restriction" is demonstrably false.

On the other hand, his call to revisit (and rescind) the draconian cuts in Medicare bear consideration, as does his support of the Medicare Advantage program.

Finally, he he specifically targets the (evil) individual mandate, as well as abortion funding and the employer fine. Unfortunately, he completely misses the MLR (Medical Loss Ratio), which is (at best) a dubious metric.

Over all, a good, solid B-, which means that there's great potential for improvement. Looking forward to that.
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