The insurance industry brought forth HB423 with an eye toward creating an even more monopolistic business environment than they already enjoy. Fortunately for Idaho small businesses and struggling families, a majority of Republicans on the House Business Committee killed the legislation.
Under the legislation, the Department of Insurance would be given even greater powers to regulate the rates charged by companies offering health insurance in the state. Specifically, Bill Deal would be able to outlaw plans in the state that he deemed to be too costly or too cheap. It was this latter provision which really caught our attention: HB423 defined "inadequate" rates as those which might "disrupt the insurance marketplace".
Let's translate: As we read the legislation, if a company came into Idaho and tried to undercut the giants like Blue Cross - the Department of Insurance could force the competitor to raise their premiums so that Blue Cross would not be unduly discomfited by the competition.
What?! As one businessman testified during the hearing - we should all be praying for a little disruption in a marketplace which sees regular double-digit increases in premiums.
Despite the fact that the legislation would lead to increased regulation of the private sector, and despite the fact that it would also implement part of the ObamaCare regulations - the only 3 insurance companies allowed to sell health care insurance all showed up to bless the bill: Blue Cross, Regence Blue Shield and Pacific Source. But, then, why wouldn't they? It pretty much locks up their monopoly in Idaho.
The motion to pass the bill came from Democrat John Rusche. Not only is he a doctor, he is involved in the insurance industry. (During the brief discussion of his motion, Rusche actually argued that the bill would help Idaho defend itself against the federal government's intrusion into health care - despite the fact that he is an ardent defender of ObamaCare).
No surprise that Rusche was joined by the other Democrats present in supporting more government.
More disturbingly, his motion to support the Insurance Trust was backed by Republicans Jeff Thompson, Carlos Bilbao and Marge Chadderdon.
Reps. Vito Barbieri and Cliff Bayer led the defense of Idaho's small businesses and consumers. They were joined by Reps. Brent Crane, Frank Henderson, Joe Palmer, Reed DeMordaunt, Jim Guthrie, Jim Patrick and Gayle Batt.