DATELINE: WASHINGTON, D.C. – 11/14/13
President Obama, in an effort to preempt the House vote scheduled for the following day, gives a one hour news conference. In it he offers those five million plus individuals who have so far lost their health insurance coverage due to the implementation of Obamacare an “apology”, kinda, sorta. His new plan is to allow insurance companies to ignore the requirements of the ACA and to continue to offer the plans which they were forced to cancel for a one year period. The news reports focus on whether that logistically can be accomplished and even if it can whether the president has the Constitutional authority to implement this plan.
DATELINE: WASHINGTON, D.C. – 11/15/13
The House passes the bill submitted by Rep. Fred Upton (R – MI), which not only offers those who have lost their health insurance the right to keep it but authorizes anyone else who wants to purchase a similar contract to be able to do so. This is a not very opaquely veiled attempt to sabotage the health insurance exchanges and ultimately Obamacare itself. The bill passes the House with 39 Democrat representatives, one fifth of that caucus, voting for it. The passage of the bill is viewed as a bipartisan effort to “fix” the law and Obama threatens to veto it should it ever pass the Senate which is unlikely with Senator Harry Reid controlling the agenda in that body.
DATELINE: AMERICA – TODAY
There is no question that the proposals which have been offered by both sides have come about as the result of political maneuvering rather than from concern to develop sound policy. And it is only sound policy that will save us from ourselves. Consider, for a moment, why this current skirmish has happened.
It is true that as the ACA was originally written, all insurance contracts which were issued prior to its being signed into law were “grandfathered,” and those who had purchased them would be allowed to continue to be insured by them if the policy owner chose to do so. But then, as happens with all bills, the agency designed to oversee the law, HHS began its job of writing regulations to interpret what this two thousand page law actually said – and it accomplished its job with an additional ten thousand pages of regulations. The way those regulations were written (whether unintentionally or on purpose is immaterial) essentially negated the grandfathering provision of Obamacare.
As more people began receiving notices of cancellation from their insurers who had read the regulations and realized that they were not allowed to continue to offer these policies, the Administration took the position that, despite Obama’s repeated promises that this would not happen, they would spin this by saying that, 1) This only affected a “small percentage of Americans,” and as the numbers grew and people got angrier, 2) That these were “sub-standard” policies and that those who lost their coverage would be “better off” with one of the new Obamacare-compliant plans that were being offered – if only they could actually get on the website and buy them.
In any two thousand page law it is almost inevitable that there is something that at least accidentally has been written which is good policy and there is that in Obamacare. Specifically, not allowing insurers to drop a client who develops a medical condition and requiring that insurance companies cover people who have pre-existing conditions is good policy. A compassionate society has the responsibility to take care of those who cannot fend for themselves.
But if we expect our insurance company to have the wherewithal to write the check when we take the kids to the doctor or write the much larger check when a woman with breast cancer undergoes therapy, then those insurers have to earn a profit on their overall portfolio of business. Unlike the Federal government which can merely print more money, insurance companies can only write checks when they have the money in their accounts to do so. Clearly those in government who view the ability to tax as an inherent prerogative and even their duty, have no concept of this or they would have written Obamacare dramatically differently.
There is perhaps no more telling statistic than that only eight percent of those in the Obama administration have ever held a job in private industry. That compares with more than sixty-five percent in the George W. Bush administration and nearly eighty percent who served during the Reagan administration. It is only natural that to people who have never known anything other than a government paycheck, that they have the mindset that government can do it best. After all, government has served their and their families’ financial needs well through their lifetimes.
Think about that concept and the argument that the policies which were cancelled were “sub-standard.” The Federal government has now come to the rescue of these obviously “stupid” consumers who didn’t realize that they had bought a pig in a poke.
The insurance industry is one of the most highly regulated businesses in America. Every state has an insurance commission which passes on all the policies which may be sold in their state. They can require that an insurance company revise its contracts before they may be sold to consumers if the commission does not feel that a policy meets the standards which they have set. So, these “sub-standard” policies were approved for sale by whom? By government – or more exactly, by fifty state governments. It seems disingenuous to believe that government should be entrusted to fix a problem that government has apparently created. And the same may be said both of the recent “mea culpa” by Obama and the passage of the recent House bill as well.
In his latest excellent book, “The Liberty Amendments,” author Mark Levin argues that one of the Constitutional amendments which we should enact if we are to try to save the Republic is to require term limits for our legislators. This is hardly a new idea.
“My reason for fixing them in office for a term of years, rather than for life, was that they might have an idea that they were at a certain period to return into the mass of the people and become the governed instead of the governors which might still keep alive that regard to the public good that otherwise they might perhaps be induced by their independence to forget.” – Thomas Jefferson
But I would also add an additional amendment which Levin does not discuss. That is “Time Limits,” in which Congress should accomplish its work. In the early Congresses this occurred rather naturally as most who served had their own businesses which provided their livelihood and their service in Washington was a part-time job. If we remember the old adage, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground,” we should be aware that people who view their jobs as “legislators” will fill the amount of time given to them to do just that – often with disastrous consequences.
If we limited the amount of time that those in Congress met and paid them a daily small stipend for their service, it just might force our legislators to work efficiently and in a bipartisan manner to address the issues which are their proper purview. And it would allow them the time at home to find out what exactly was on the minds of their constituents. We would need fewer polls because the people would have direct access to their representatives to speak their mind. And that would be a good thing.
DATELINE: AMERICA – THE FUTURE
We’ve gone a long way down the road of abandonment from the principle in which, “That government is best which governs least,” was an essential foundation for our Republic. Whether we continue our present route or reverse our course is up to us. But we as we determine our own fate, it would be well if we remember the words that our first president offered his countrymen.
“The people must remain ever vigilant against tyrants masquerading as public servants.” – George Washington