10.01.2008 0

Sunshine on Government Mandates

  • On: 10/09/2008 15:47:59
  • In: Health Care
  • “Republicans in Congress may be out of gas, but that doesn’t mean conservative ideas aren’t percolating elsewhere, and even on the supposedly Democratic stronghold of health care. Take the news from Florida, where GOP Governor Charlie Crist succeeded last week in moving an innovative reform through the state legislature.”“The Florida Revelation …”, Wall Street Journal, May 29th, 2008

    As the Wall Street Journal notes in its editorial, Republicans nationally are reeling from a lack of conservative leadership. During such dark times for the nation’s political right, it falls upon local and state conservative leaders to take the mantle and implement free market ideas that empower individuals take control of their own lives.

    In Charlie Crist’s Florida, this is particularly true, where there is no state income tax, school choice initiatives are en vogue, and now health care choice is taking center stage. As the Journal notes:

    “The Sunshine State has about 3.8 million people without insurance, or about 21% of the population, the fourth-highest rate in the country. The “Cover Florida” plan hopes to improve those numbers by offering access to more affordable policies. As even Barack Obama says, the main reason people are uninsured isn’t because they don’t want to be; it’s because coverage is too expensive.

    “But the Florida reform, which both houses of the legislature approved unanimously, renounces Mr. Obama’s favored remedy: It nudges the government out of the health-care marketplace. Insurance companies will be permitted to sell stripped-down, no-frills policies exempted from the more than 50 mandates that Florida otherwise imposes, including for acupuncture and chiropractics. The new plans will be designed to cost as little as $150 a month, or less.

    “Mr. Crist observed that state regulations increase the cost of health coverage, and thus rightly decided to do away with at least some of them. It’s hard to believe, but this qualifies as a revelation in the policy world of health insurance. The new benefit packages will be introduced sometime next year and include minimum coverage for primary care and catastrophic expenses for major illness.”

    In other words, for Americans wondering why their health care costs so much, they need look no further than Big Government. Representatives in every state legislature across the country are the ones responsible for drafting mandates for health coverage. In Florida, there were no less than 50 state mandates that make health insurance inordinately expensive for Sunshine State residents.

    The “Sunshine Solution” is a good first step—but it does not go far enough. As the Journal notes, these choices would only be available to Floridians who have been without health care for six or more months. The real solution is to repeal the mandates all together, for everyone. If an insurance company wants to offer bare coverage, that choice should be available to every single citizen, not just the uninsured.

    The Journal points out that many of the some 1,900 mandates nationwide are the product of special interest lobbying by health care providers “because they profit from making everyone subsidize generous plans that cover, say, podiatry or infertility treatment.”

    Government mandates, in everything from how cars are made to how businesses provide health coverage, create additional costs that are always passed on to consumers, increasing the prices of every item and action so regulated. Oftentimes, businesses that want to cannot provide more affordable options precisely because of such regulations. That is not the free market.

    This nation needs real conservative leadership that can and will repeal these onerous regulations and restore free market principles. By reducing and repealing mandates, state governments across the country will create opportunities for competition—which will reduce costs—and allow the free market to create real choices.

    Maybe it’s time for conservative leaders nationwide to look to the Sunshine State to shed some much-needed light on how to return free market sanity to fiscal policy.

    ALG Perspective: This is an argument that conservative politicians ought to be making every day: Government mandates are artificially escalating the costs of health care for Americans, and they do not have to put up with it. They should seek to only elect politicians that have an eye towards deregulation. The argument that health care providers would not provide “good” coverage if the government didn’t force them too is utter nonsense because, as noted above, they’re often the ones who lobbied for such mandates. It is time for politicians to stop selling the people out, and start working for their interests.

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