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Reject Health Exchanges In Colorado (SB200)   May 1st, 2011
No time like the present to reject Obamacare       

 
QUICK OBSERVATIONS

More observations...
 

The Colorado legislature is currently considering SB200--a bill creating health exchanges pursuant to Obamacare. This is bad legislation that should be rejected.

There has already been plenty of commentary opposing SB200, including a very good article by Senator Shawn Mitchell. But I finally got around to reading the proposed legislation (available here) and I can see why it's being opposed by conservatives.

Here are some observations:

  • Bureaucracy. The bill would create a 12-member board not elected by the people, a 10-member legislative oversight committee, and an unspecified number of technical and advisory groups.

  • Governor Appointments to Board. Of the nine voting members on the board, five are appointed by the governor. This immediately sets up a situation similar to the reapportionment committee where the governor has a huge influence on the makeup of the exchange board. With the governor appointing a majority of the board, the board will immediately lean towards the desires of the political party of the governor. In this case, the board will immediately lean Democrat. [Section 10-22-105(1a)].

  • Weakness in Governor Appointment Limitation. The bill does try to somewhat limit the governor's partisan appointment capability by stating that he cannot appoint more than three members from the same political party. However, in the case of the current governor, he could appoint three Democrats and two members of the Green Party. Or he could appoint two unaffiliated members who just happened to have been Democrats until "recently." While this caveat is a nice attempt at limiting the governor's appointment capability, a better mechanism would be to not allow the governor to appoint a majority of the board in the first place. [Section 10-22-105(1a)]

  • Chairman of The Board. The board itself elects its chairman. If enacted, the chairman of the board will be a Democrat while Obamacare is potentially being implemented. [Section 10-22-105]

  • Insurance Companies on Board. As many as four of the nine members on the board may be representatives of/associated with the insurance industry. [Section 10-22-105]

  • Experience Required. The experience required of a prospective appointee to the board is such that it would seem that the majority of appointees will probably be those that are either currently or previously associated with insurance interests. While some small business owners and IT experts could qualify, it would appear that those that would meet the largest number of experience requirements would be those previously having worked in the insurance industry. [Section 10-22-105(b) I-XI].

  • Applies for Obamacare Funding. One of the powers and duties of the board is to apply for funding from Obamacare. [Section 10-22-106(c)]

  • Shares Information with Federal Government. The bill proposes that the "board may enter into information-sharing agreements with federal and state agencies." The only consideration in regards to sharing confidential personal information is that it must "comply with all state and federal laws, rules, and regulations." While it's not clear what information may be shared, this is an explicit allowance to share an unspecified amount of data. Would that include employee and patient health information? [Section 10-22-106(k)2].

  • HHS Internet Website. The board will review and/or use the HHS website, and/or a template provided by HHS under Obamacare for use by the state exchange. As the public face of the exchange, this potentially is a massive wide open door for Obamacare to slip in. [Section 10-22-106(f)].

  • Lack of Specificity. The bill suffers from a lack of clear specificity of scope when it comes to instructing what kind of exchange the board will create. There is no reference to free-market or anything encouraging anything that limits the extent of which the government would be involved. The declared intent/guidance is in the legislative intent section that states:

    THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY INTENDS TO CREATE A HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE TO FIT THE UNIQUE NEEDS OF COLORADO AND SEEK COLORADO-SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS. THE COLORADO HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE, INCLUDING AN AMERICAN HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE, IS INTENDED TO FACILITATE THE ACCESS TO AND ENROLLMENT IN HEALTH PLANS IN THE INDIVIDUAL MARKET IN THIS STATE AND INCLUDE A SMALL BUSINESS HEALTH OPTIONS PROGRAM TO ASSIST SMALL EMPLOYERS IN THIS STATE IN FACILITATING THE ENROLLMENT OF THEIR EMPLOYEES IN HEALTH PLANS OFFERED IN THE SMALL EMPLOYER MARKET. THE INTENT OF THE COLORADO HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE IS TO INCREASE ACCESS, AFFORDABILITY, AND CHOICE FOR INDIVIDUALS AND SMALL EMPLOYERS PURCHASING HEALTH INSURANCE IN COLORADO.


    Note that the "American Health Benefit Exchange" is something that's created by Obamacare. This essentially would plant the seeds of Obamacare in Colorado.
So... This legislation would create a new board of non-elected bureaucrats to carry out the desires of the Democratic governor. The board would immediately lean liberal during the potential implementation of Obamcare and would request money under Obamacare (a law our attorney general is trying to fight as unconstitutional). It expressly permits the sharing of unspecified confidential information with the federal government. And it would most likely be dominated by representatives of insurance companies--companies which only recently supported Obamacare.

Sen. Mitchell correctly states "Pushback is critical while Congress and the courts grapple with the law and with public resistance." The more states that setup exchanges pursuant to the law, the less likely it will be that the Supreme Court will find Obamacare unconsitutional. How dare we rush to capitulate to--and even start to implement--Obamacare while Colorado Attorney General John Suthers is fighting the good fight to get Obamacare thrown out.

Florida's approach is better: "The state will not be spending any of the money it received from the federal government for the development of a health insurance exchange, according to an announcement made on 2/2/2011 by Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. Other states have introduced legislation to make it illegal for insurance companies or their government branches to implement any provision of Obamacare."

I see nothing in SB200 that gives me any reason to believe there's any benefit to the residents of Colorado. I buy and pay for my own health insurance as an individual. I didn't need Obamacare or a health exchange to find the plan, to get it, or to pay for it. No government-run exchange was or is necessary. We don't need government to create a free market. In fact, that's all but an oxymoron.

A thoroughly offensive article in support of SB200 ran along-side Sen. Mitchell's principled opposition to the bill. It was this article that bothered me enough to motivate me to read the bill, form an opinion, and write this article... even at this late date.

The article said:

Their session is over, so it would be nice to have the power to import some good, old-fashioned Republicans from the Utah Legislature over to Denver to help steel the nerves of their counterparts in the Colorado House and Senate...

Many Colorado legislators fear the wrath of Tea Party activists who have made support of Senate Bill 200, which would establish a health-care exchange similar to Utah's, a needless ideological litmus test on which to oppose Republican lawmakers in primary elections.


Old-fashioned Republicans? Like the ones in Washington D.C. who have all but assisted Democrats in creating a national debt that is now a clear and present danger to the United States? That kind of old-fashioned Republican? And Republicans should enact SB200 so as not to appear to fear their constituents? It's good when legislators fear the wrath of their electorate. That's the whole point!

And there's no guarantee that the board created by SB200 would create anything similar to Utah's Health Exchange--the bill doesn't give sufficient guidance on what kind of exchange would be created. Not to mention that Utah's Health Exchange isn't exactly a stellar model. As of last year only 600 people had signed up, and insurance premiums were higher in the exchange. Now, over a year after implementation, still only 3000 individuals are covered. Regardless of the success or failure of Utah's exchange, it's expected that it will be destroyed by Obamacare.

Anything positive that could possibly be accomplished by a Colorado Health Exchange will be destroyed by Obamacare (as is feared in Utah), and we should avoid cooperating with Obamacare every opportunity we get.

SB200 should be rejected.

If Obamacare is actually ever implemented, let it not be said that Colorado Republicans had any hand in facilitating it. Republicans in the Colorado Senate unanimously opposed SB200. Conservatives in the House should do the same.

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