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Posted at 9:01 PM ET, 12/16/2010

Wrong way on insurance mandate in Va.

By Michael Berla, Columbia

Regarding the Dec. 15 Metro article “Cuccinelli basking in court victory”:

Virginia Attorney General Ken T. Cuccinelli II seeks to prohibit the individual health insurance mandate. If he wins his case, he will be guaranteeing insurance companies the continued right to deny health insurance applications because of preexisting conditions.

It’s simple: You can’t deny insurers the right to refuse on the basis of a preexisting condition unless you make insurance coverage mandatory. Otherwise, healthy folks would wait until they were ill or injured to apply for insurance. The vast majority of Americans have indicated time and again that they disapprove of denial of coverage because of preexisting conditions.

By Michael Berla, Columbia  | December 16, 2010; 9:01 PM ET
Categories:  Va. Politics, Virginia  
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This isn't about preexisting conditions or health care insurance, this is about fighting back the expansion of FEDERAL POWERS; this is all about individual LIBERTY, why can you people understand this? If the federal government can mandate that any American buy this health insurance that meets the federal standards and if not you will pay a fine, well where does it end? Why not mandate that we all must buy a Chevy Volt, what about a federal mandate that we buy Brussel Sprouts because it is healthy or be fined? How about a federal mandate that we turn our thermostats down to 58 degrees in the winter and up to 93 degrees in the summer or pay extra? Really, where would it end if we allow federal power like this? The Constitution of the United States LIMITS FEDERAL POWER and the Interstate commerce clause doesn’t grant this power so where does this power come from?

Posted by: vatownsend | December 17, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

I am a volunteer who helps Medicare beneficiaries navigate their drug plans each year. From 11/15 to 12/31, I usually spend at least some time every day doing this.

The Medicare Part D drug plans that came into existence in 2006 have a penalty structure that adds roughly a $3-3.50 per year penalty to a beneficiary's cost for each year he doesn't have coverage. This penalty is paid monthly - forever. If a person who qualified in 2006 doesn't sign up until 2011, he will pay about $15-18 more a month than if he signed up when he should have. Part B has similar but higher penalties.

Every year, I help a number of clients who take no drugs or one or two of the $4 drugs you can buy at WalMart get the lowest premium. These are the folks who wouldn't dream of not 'doing the right thing' by not having insurance, even though they don't use it.

Every year I also see a couple of folks who didn't buy Part D insurance when they could because they didn't need it but want it now. They want it now because they have been diagnosed with some kind of illness that requires a lot of expensive drugs. They will gladly pay the penalty because that penalty opens up thousands of dollars in benefits to them for pennies on the dollar in penalties. The healthy law-abiding folks continue to pay for nothing.

The only way that this ill-thought-out health care law will work is if we can FORCE people to buy insurance, but I have always had my doubts about this plan standing up to judicial review.

I also don't see how we can get everybody to buy insurance short of denying any sort of health care to people who refused to buy insurance and can't pay for their care. I don't see us doing that.

The folks who do the right thing will continue to pay for those who don't. It has become the American Way.

Posted by: dflinchum | December 17, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

This has little to nothing to do with insurance. This is a question about whether the government can force you to pay to do something with zero ability to opt out.

Posted by: paperregister | December 17, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

'This is a question about whether the government can force you to pay to do something with zero ability to opt out.'

It is also about an out-of-touch Congress that passes complex legislation affecting everybody in a rip-tearing hurry in the dead of night without having the slightest understanding as to how it can be implemented or even IF it can be implemented.

When the speaker of the House says stupid things like "We have to pass this law in order to find out what is in it", then you know the inmates have taken over the asylum.

Posted by: dflinchum | December 17, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

"'This is a question about whether the government can force you to pay to do something with zero ability to opt out.'"

You mean like companies can opt out of buying pollution control equipment from private companies? You mean like I can opt of of installing a septic system for my house?

Gosh, I missed it when doing in the backyard became legal.

Posted by: lensch | December 17, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Defenders of the health insurance mandate seem to completely miss the difference between state and federal action. Our Constitution and our country were set up to divide power between the federal government and the individual states and to reserve to the states any and all powers not specifically granted to the federal government. This is why, lensch, the states (or counties or municipalities) can regulate whether you have a septic system. Those regulations do NOT come from the federal government. Larger federal pollution statutes can only regulate businesses because they are engaged in interstate commerce. I, for one, shudder at the thought of having the federal goverment dictate septic rules and regulations for every house in America.

Likewise, however, nothing in the federal Constitution limits or prohibits the individual states from enacting their own health insurance mandate as several states (like Massachussetts) have already done.

The defenders of the mandate also seem to be willing to throw away our Constitution and the idea of a limited federal government simply because they think the mandate is a good idea and would solve, or help solve, health care problems. Since when is it okay to violate the Constitution, no matter how good the reason? Should we look the other way if a police officer violates the Constitution to put away a dangerous and violent way? Of course not, because the very purpose of the Constitution is to protect those fundamental rights and values, like a limited federal government. If our country has decided to abandon those principals, then the right way to do it would be through amendment of the Constitution, not to just simply ignore it when we wouldn't like the outcome.

Posted by: Mason07 | December 17, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

From the Constitution:

"provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States"

If health care isn't general Welfare, what is?

Posted by: lensch | December 17, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Also, SCOTUS has ruled on a number of occasions that acts that affect interstate commerce are covered by the commerce clause. See linda Greenhouse's column in today's NY Times.

Surely the decision not to have health insurance and rely on the other people in the country to pay for your health care affects interstate commerce.

Posted by: lensch | December 17, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Of course everyone agrees that the government should NOT force me to do something. Instead, I should be forced to pay for the inconsiderates by those same inconsiderates. All in defense of their right to avoid responsibility and dump it on me! Why would I posiibly object to that?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | December 17, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

lensch posts December 17, 2010 12:58 PM
"Surely the decision not to have health insurance and rely on the other people in the country to pay for your health care affects interstate commerce."

So insurance companies should require their customers to wear some kind of I.D. to be treated by health care professionals. No I.D. no treatment. When people start dying on the sidewalks then people will see the value of having everyone insured.

Posted by: knjincvc | December 17, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

"This has little to nothing to do with insurance. This is a question about whether the government can force you to pay to do something with zero ability to opt out."

You mean like having to pay for wars of choice?

Posted by: knjincvc | December 17, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

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