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Amy Stephens Town hall on Healthcare Exchanges

March 24, 2011

l to r: Stephens, Hickenlooper, Boyd

Yesterday, at a meeting billed as a town hall, Amy Stephens tried to make the case for her healthcare exchange bill, introduced in the senate as SB11-200. She claimed it would “create a free market for health care”–forgetting that government can’t create a free market. It was, as a friend noted, a dialog only in the Soviet sense: we talk, you listen.

She thinks she has sufficient controls written into the bill so that the left wouldn’t be able to subvert it. And after all, she expects to be one of those nine administrators who will keep it on the straight and narrow.

She touted support from some local healthcare experts and from both the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). I respect both of those organizations: it was ALEC’s model legislation that was used by the Independence Institute for the “Freedom of Health Care Choice” amendment initiative last fall. When I asked after the meeting how the Cato Institute felt about it, she made it very clear that she didn’t care for their opinion.

I’m nothing if not for free markets, and so is Cato. Michael Cannon wrote a piece on health care exchanges that appears in this week’s National Review.

His concluding paragraph:

There is no good way, or even a less-bad way, for states or the feds to implement Obamacare’s exchanges or other central elements. Permitted to stand, Obamacare will reduce Americans’ incomes, harm their health, and decrease their freedom. The only way to fix it is to demolish it. “Collaboration in setting up exchanges only encourages the corporate interests who will profit from them and sends a signal that ‘repeal and replace’ is not serious,” writes the Pacific Research Institute’s John R. Graham. Rather than spend any time, money, or energy creating constituencies for Obamacare, Graham writes, “we have to discourage implementation, totally and immediately.”

There is much more and I recommend reading the article in full. Amy makes several points in support of her bill:

  • We don’t have a free market in health care today. This bill is a step forward.
  • It supports small business, who needs relief, and is supported by the National Federation of Business
  • She got everything she wanted in this bill
  • There are sufficient controls to prevent this from going awry.

The problem is, though, that as Cannon writes:

There is simply no rationale for implementing an exchange that stands up to scrutiny. Some governors have indulged the fantasy that they can create a better exchange, one that does not comply with Obamacare. It’s an audacious stratagem.

Amy thinks it is the right thing to do and she is willing to take the risk.  She believes that “sitting on our hands is not an option.” She believes that she is showing leadership and getting out in front of the issue. The problem is, if you’re getting out in the lead you’d better be heading in the right direction.

Cannon feels that creating exchanges now is a strategy doomed to failure. I agree.

  1. Cindy permalink
    March 26, 2011 12:34 pm

    What is wrong with this picture? Collaboration with a hardcore Progressive? Enough said. How much of his influence is in this bill? And is Stephen S. Hyde; the author of “Cured” a bigger government advisor? He advised Rep. Stephens. She’s raised taxes before. I’m not convinced that she needs to remain for another term.

    She believes that no action is good. It is good if you go forward with action that can be manipulated by the left? Want to go forward? Wait for Obamacare to be repealed. Release the burden of over-regulation on insurance companies, medical care providers, and so forth in as much as the state legislature can provide. That’s action that no one but the left would disagree with.

    Doctors and nurses are fleeing the medical field. Doctors are going into voluntary retirement to get out from under Obamacare. Where will these doctors come from?China? Russia? Pakistan? India? UAE? Saudi Arabia? Etc.? We are now in a deficit with our doctor and nurse shortage. Will these exchanges include taking of Medicare or Medicaid patients? I doubt it. So much to think about and Rep. Stephen’s version of “Healthcare Exchanges” alarms me. I am not convinced that the Fed’s will not be able to manipulate these exchanges and manipulate Colorado via the grants that are sure to come into them.

  2. Jan T permalink
    April 2, 2011 10:02 pm

    I don’t believe that “Amycare” or the health exchanges bill will pass due to two recent things that have come to light. The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to rescind the grant money in Obamacare alloted for the health care exchanges. Also, 5 states have been granted Obamacare waivers primarily based on its negative impact on health insurance, and more states are in the process of requesting waivers.

    The regulations for implementation of Obamacare, or PPACA, are still being written and worked out. I agree that Rep. Stephen’s version of the exchanges is not the right medicine!

    The author of Massachusetts’ Romneycare, MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, says that Romneycare “fixed the insurance market” to cover more people. He says it didn’t control costs, but “it wasn’t supposed to.” Yet, the Administration sold its federal plan, i.e. Obamacare, which was fashioned after Romneycare, as controlling costs!

    • April 3, 2011 3:21 pm

      I pray you’re right. The progressives will never stop and we must remain vigilant. I just got an email update from Oklahoma that I will post.

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