Health insurers could be allowed to bypass some key reforms
Senate bills would include loopholes for proposed ‘exchange’
By David S. Hilzenrath
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Nobody wants to spend a lot of time and energy — and taxpayer money — and end up where they started. But that’s what could happen with one of the principal elements of health reform, the “exchange” or “gateway.”
Legislators are designing this new insurance marketplace to protect consumers from many of the pitfalls and inequities in the current system. But even as they focus on the details of how the marketplace will work, senators have indicated that they would allow insurers to continue operating outside it, much as the health-insurance lobby has sought.
One Senate bill would preserve the possibility that insurers could tailor policies to draw healthy individuals out of the new markets, leaving coverage less affordable for those who stay behind.
“It’s a leak in the system,” said Karen L. Pollitz, a professor at Georgetown’s Health Policy Institute. “It returns you to problems that we have today.”
Ah yes, the 2,000 pound gorilla (health care legislation) strikes again.
Recall the Patriot Act, an enormous document that no legislator read, cobbled together in the six weeks after 9-11 and passed in three days of national panic.
As a result, no American citizen living outside the U.S. (there are some 4 million of us) can open a U.S.-based bank account without actually walking in the door even though the bank you had in America went bust.
Americans are, by an act of patriotism, monitored as never before, put on chaotic ‘no-fly’ lists without explanation or redress, snooped upon in violation of the Constitution and potentially locked up without the chance to answer charges–because there are none. That’s just the short-list. Very short.
The point is not to denigrate the health care reform process, but to call attention to the fact that Congress doesn’t need fine print, as long as it creates enough print.
Except when they don’t and when it serves another purpose. The then Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, gave away $700 billion taxpayer dollars to buddy-banks in a single page.
We’re seeing the obfuscation of clarity and purpose in the service of the ‘usual suspects,’ the intolerable and invincible special interests represented by lobbyists. These dudes are paying off our elected officials, big-time.
Senator Max Baucus of Montana, all by his lonely little self, pocketed a cool career $4 million from the health care and insurance industries. Who can tell what cushy job Max will land at a pharmaceutical company when Montanans finally throw him out of office?
It may well be that God is in the details, but financial interests are in the page-count.