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SB-200 is an Obamacare Trojan Horse

April 21, 2011

When you look at the history and content of SB-200 and the actions of the governor, there can be no doubt that the healthcare exchange being put in place is designed to dovetail with the implementation of Obamacare.

On December 31, 2010, Gov. Hickenlooper appointed Sue Birch, formerly of the Visiting Nurses’ Association, as the Executive Director of the Department of Health Care Policy and Finance.¬† She had worked with the Hickenlooper campaign as a health care adviser and had recently finished a fellowship with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. Their mission: To help our society transform itself for the better. Sound familiar?

On January 5, 2011, he appointed Joan Henneberry–Ritter’s Executive Director of Health Care Policy and Finance to head the creation of Colorado’s health care exchange. These are among the first of the governor’s appointments.

With his people in place, all the governor needed was the statutory authority to create an exchange. Enter SB-200. My PPC colleague Brian Schwartz wrote back on January 5th about the risks of creating exchanges in advance of Obamacare. Basically, whatever the states do now, their exchanges will be co-opted by Obamacare should the Supreme Court do the unthinkable and somehow reason that the government can force us to buy health insurance.

The argument coming from advocates in government and the healthcare industry–eager for a controlled, guaranteed-revenue market–is that government can create a free market. Absurd as that seems, they pointed to two positions to support it. The first was Utah’s attempt at creating a market exchange. However, Utah’s pilot program was really little more than a government-subsidized website, did not enjoy much success, and has since failed. The second argument is that the Heritage Foundation supports the idea. With this argument the left claims that healthcare exchanges are really a conservative idea. At least some conservatives, such as Rep Amy Stephens, have bought this story hook, line and sinker. The reality, however, is that Heritage worked with then-governor Romney on the Massachusetts exchange under pressure from a very liberal legislature. The result was the mess called Romneycare, a complex story in its own right.

Heritage’s support of exchanges since then is not unqualified, as anyone who cares to research the facts knows. Many other conservative organizations–Cato, Pacific Research, and American Enterprise Institutes among them–are against both the idea of exchanges generally and the creation of exchanges now.

So why an exchange in Colorado and why now? Henneberry provided the answer at a legislative briefing last week. The Department of Healthcare Policy and Finance is forming working groups to implement Obamacare under her direction, including  one which will focus on data collection so that they can better design health plans and develop marketing strategies and funding sources. Behind the scenes, it is full speed ahead on single-payer.

But their current federal grant of nearly $1,000,000 is running out.  They need to apply for a new federal government grant by September to carry them until 2014; they expect to be self-sufficient by 2015 through assessments of premiums.

Does any of this sound free market? Is it clear now why SB-200 is needed to create the new bureaucracy to fill out these working groups and to write new grants?

Who do you think is going to be the executive director of the new exchange created by the bill? My bet is on Henneberry–she already has the title.

SB-200 is a Trojan horse to implement government-controlled, single-payer healthcare in Colorado. The conservative Republicans in the Senate are not fooled, but House Republicans are marching blithely down the road to serfdom.

And taking us with them.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2011 10:41 pm

    Good writing but I have to disagree. First of all, by calling it Obamacare you are already discrediting your otherwise excellent writing. In case you did not know, it is called the PPACA. By calling it Obamacare, you are using heuristics to incite negativity, which is a sad trick.

    Second, whether you agree with the PPACA or not, stalling on Exchanges is foolish for Colorado. Let me paint a picture for you:

    You own a business and you learn that you can apply for a grant from the small business association that will allow you to run your business better. The only trick is, the money used may eventually become futile due to an overturning in legislation that allows you to operate in your business field. As a business owner, you can either apply for the grant and be ready to get your business going, or you can ignore the grant and hope to figure it out on your own. By the way, there would be no risk in applying for the grant either way. Which would you choose?

    I’m sure someone will blow my metaphor up, but my point is valid. Preparing for PPACA implementation is good government. I attended a State of the State meeting this week hosted by HCCA and the topic was Exchanges. There’s a lot of information available that you can and should take the time to read about the Exchanges. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, but expecting the State legislature to sit on the sidelines and let the Feds determine our future seems like a poor plan. My 2 cents. Thanks for the article.

    • April 21, 2011 10:54 pm

      I guess I’d have to agree: opponents call it Obamacare, similar to Romneycare and soon-to-be Amycare. Proponents prefer the Orwellian Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act–none of which it is.

      I don’t quite understand your analogy. You’re discussing the government interfering in free markets in your example, which I would also oppose. Further, you take the argument from the business point of view–which is exactly what Democrats and some House Republicans are doing.

      And that is exactly the problem with all these exchanges: government control and who benefits? The health care industry, not the people. The people get stuck with the bill and ultimately, less choice and lower quality health care.

      I’ve read a lot on these issues–a lot more than I’d cared to and much of it not supplied by the health care industry. It is easy to get bowled over by their facts and statistics but the bottom line for me and the majority of Americans is we don’t want the government collecting statistics on us and designing health insurance plans that we’re forced to buy.

      You think this is being proactive? It’s about as proactive as throwing your wallet at a shady-looking character so he doesn’t rob you. They are shady and they are going to rob you–of your money, your health and your liberty.

  2. April 22, 2011 7:15 pm

    The government will not be designing the plans, it will be the insurance companies that participate in the exchanges. While it is true that there is supposed to be a panel that determines what the basic coverage should entail, it will ultimately be up to the free market to decide what those plans are and how much they cost. I for one am glad that the government is finally stepping in and telling insurance companies that they should cover people born with pre-existing conditions or people that had the unfortunate disaster of getting cancer. There’s a lot more to PPACA than the Exchanges. And I don’t feel the government will be robbing me of much of anything since my employer provides my coverage. Actually, if anything, PPACA will reduce costs and lower your premiums, if all goes to plan. Speaking of the healthcare industry providing information, have you been to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website? They have some pretty remarkable data on the PPACA: http://healthreform.kff.org/

    Thanks for your continued dialogue.

    • April 23, 2011 9:54 am

      It’s pretty clear to me by now that you’re all for socialized, nationalized healthcare, no matter what we call it. You’ve through together a number of arguments in what I call a mud-throwing strategy: throw a lot of mud on the wall and see what sticks.

      I’m going to respond piece by piece:

      “The government will not be designing the plans, it will be the insurance companies that participate in the exchanges.”

      Wrong on three counts: first, as I wrote in the original post, the state is already collecting statistics and designing plans; second, a health care industry lobbyist I talked to at the capitol confirmed that; third, there is NOTHING in the bill that specifies who is going to design the plans. So you really can’t have a basis to make that statement.

      “While it is true that there is supposed to be a panel that determines what the basic coverage should entail, it will ultimately be up to the free market to decide what those plans are and how much they cost.”

      Really? Again, NOWHERE in the bill. The bill leaves it ENTIRELY up to the administrators to design the plans. While Rep Stephens told me on the radio that it would be like “kayak” (the air fare site), the healthcare lobbyist told me just as specifically that it would NOT be like that.

      “I for one am glad that the government is finally stepping in and telling insurance companies that they should cover people born with pre-existing conditions or people that had the unfortunate disaster of getting cancer.”

      Which is my big clue that you are a socialist. That is not the purpose of government under our Constitution–to the extent we still follow it. Insurance is designed to protect us from certain potential calamities. Government ALREADY dictates a lot to insurance companies–they’re called mandates–and it’s one big reason why prices are so high. It’s also the reason you, as a man, must buy an insurance policy that includes pregnancy care.

      Government ALREADY has high-risk insurance pools for such people. There are ALREADY mandates on hospitals that anyone showing up at the ER gets treated. Contrary to the lies put out by the extreme left, some people may not have insurance, but nobody goes without care. It’s not the same thing.

      “There’s a lot more to PPACA than the Exchanges.”

      You bet there is. But we’re talking Amycare here and it only deals with the exchanges. They are key because they are the mechanism by which the federal government will control health care. Let’s stay on topic.

      “And I don’t feel the government will be robbing me of much of anything since my employer provides my coverage.”

      Your employer does NOW. Not for much longer. You see, the reason business–especially small business–is behind the exchanges is that people will be forced (eventually) to buy from the exchanges rather than from employers. (Remember the “patient portability” part of the name?) Employers get out from under all the government mandates, including under Obamacare increased mandates to provide healthcare insurance to a wider pool of employees. But you’re still going to pay–only this time, without the “company match” and at whatever rate the government decides is “fair.” Enjoy!

      “Actually, if anything, PPACA will reduce costs and lower your premiums,”

      How? Impossible, unless you believe you can get something for nothing, that money grows on trees, or that you have a right to demand it from your fellow citizen. The latter, by the way, is the source of the “individual mandate.”

      “if all goes to plan.”

      First, it never does. The CBO scores Obamacare much, much higher than initially advertised. That’s been true for every unconstitutional social welfare program ever enacted. Costs always balloon.

      “Speaking of the healthcare industry providing information, have you been to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website? They have some pretty remarkable data on the PPACA”

      I’ll bet they do. Big business is just as bad as big government when it comes to extracting money from the citizens–and when they work together, as in Obamacare, that cozy relationship is called crony capitalism or–to be more blunt–fascism. The healthcare industry will benefit because they will have a guaranteed, reliable source of income with greatly reduced risk.

      “Thanks for your continued dialogue.”

      Thank you as well. That’s why I do this.

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