I was intrigued when I read a headline earlier this week suggesting that some Democrats are taking the "states rights" concerns seriously in the national health care debate. It was to my surprise and disappointment when I learned that their "states rights" plan was nothing more than establishing a federal controlled state run insurance company, funded by federal money but run by the states. It is a clever way to attempt to squash the states rights argument in the health debate, and a dangerous avenue for our "party of NO" leadership should they choose to embrace the plan CITING state's rights.
As I had mentioned earlier, I am in favor of the situation being solved at the state or local level... but the solution is NOT in a government insurance company... rather regional governments should be allowed to create "groups" to negotiate group rates through PRIVATE insurance companies, and insurance companies should bid for the right to be the provider for that group rate. It is the same process used by large companies to provide lower rates to their employees, and would not include government in any way other than mediation between the insurer and the insuree... minimum cost and local control, a great compromise solution!
For instance, I work for an aerospace company who provides a group benefit. I buy my insurance based on the negotiated group rate. I go to the doctor. The doctor bills the insurance company, and bills me for the remainder (usually deductible). My employer is never notified that I have visited the doctor, is not party to any negotiations I may enter into with my doctor or insurance company, nor are they privy to any of that information. They serve as a mediator only.
Suppose, again, that the city of Seattle was to create a "Seattle Group". There is a population of at least 500,000 folks who may be interested in joining this insurance group. They use that "buying power" of 500,000 people to say to the insurers, if you make your prices low enough and your coverage beneficial enough, you get a huge bulk contract. The Seattle Group would negotiate the best coverage and lowest rates - and possibly accept a few plans under the group rate offering varying benefits to suit varying lifestyles. Their involvement after that is nill... no death panels, no other decisions. That is up to the doctors, insurance companies, and citizens who are now offered a negotiated affordable free market insurance policy.
The governments should not take up the practice of BEING the insurers. They should not move toward single payer systems. Health care providers should not be subject to overbearing government regulation, especially at the patient level.
Big government is not the solution. If, however, we want to end this stand-off over health care sensibly, the solution may, in fact, be as simple as the power to negotiate lower rates for the consumers. Of course, tort reform and lower taxes would assist in these endeavors... but the ultimate idea is the equal opportunity at more fair rates... not equal rates for everyone at the expense of the few.