At a time of critical challenge to Idaho, it is encouraging to see strong leadership coming from House Speaker Lawerence Denney and Majority Leader Mike Moyle on the question of submitting to Blue Cross and the Obama Administration.
The pair of Republican leaders issued a public statement today arguing that Idaho should not create a state insurance exchange... nor should it allow itself to be enticed into expanding Medicaid. Both of these men deserve high praise for offering strong leadership at a time when many in the Statehouse are looking for a way to accommodate powerful interest groups while retaining their claim to being "fiscal conservatives".
Moyle raised the question of whether it is better for Idahoans to allow the federal government to implement its own program. One of the advantages of doing so is that more insurance companies would be participants - theoretically offering competition to Blue Cross.
In discussions with legislators this past session, we challenged folks to explain why an expensive and oppressive new bureaucracy was to Idaho's advantage - since only 3 companies are allowed to sell insurance in the state. They have neatly carved up the market between them, with Blue Cross controlling something like 70% of the market.
Why create a whole new "supermarket" when the only thing for sale in the store is loaves of white bread?
The notion that Idaho businesses and individuals can go on-line to "shop" for insurance deals is fundamentally flawed and, frankly, is no more than intentional deception. There will be no competition under a state insurance exchange. And the size of the bread loaves will be controlled by the Obama Administration.
This points out one of the fundamental problems with ObamaCare.
The major attraction for the Insurance Industry (and hospitals, for that matter) is that the federal government will offer substantial subsidies through the state insurance exchange. Blue Cross will be paid by the U.S. Treasury to provide insurance policies to a whole new segment of the population. And hospitals will have a whole new pot of money to pay for their ever-rising prices.
Under Obama's scheme to make health care decisions for all of us, Blue Cross will become a quasi-public creature - with a pipeline permanently tapped into the federal treasury. Perhaps a good analogy of the new arrangement would be to compare Blue Cross to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. It will look like a "private" company, with all the protections of a private interest - but one operating with huge taxpayer subsidy. (And need we remind anyone of the incredible difficulty Congress has experienced in holding Fannie Mae accountable? Or changing their business practices?)
Like the Fannie Mae model, We the Citizens will become the silent and aggrieved partners. Congressmen and legislators will wring their hands. Citizens will have even less power to protect ourselves from rate hikes. But of greatest concern is our inability to make health care decisions. Those matters will be decided in private meetings between Washington bureaucrats and Blue Cross officials.
Make no mistake: It took tremendous courage for Denney and Moyle to stand up. Hopefully the People of Idaho will rally behind them to push back against Obama's scheme to control Idaho's health care.
And let us pray that their example will motivate other political leaders to take a stand in defense of the Constitution.