Nuts and Bolts of 217 Anti-Health Bill

I’ve been writing about Senate Bill 217, which seeks to impose Massachusetts-style health controls in Colorado, so I thought it was a good time to pull a few quotes from the bill itself. Colorado’s legislative bills can be downloaded at the state legislature’s web page. Click on “All Versions,” and download the confusingly labeled “Preamended” version. This version of the bill states, “This Unofficial Version Includes Committee Amendments Not Yet Adopted on Second Reading.” Additional versions of the bill may appear as it moves through the legislature.

Section 1(e) states that the bill would create “a balanced partnership between private and public sectors.” Translation: politicians are going to control the health-insurance market to an even greater extent than they do already.

Section 2(a)(I) creates a new commission, a “panel of expert advisors appointed by the govern,” composed of actuaries and insurance insiders, which “shall prepare a request for proposals to be issued to health insurance companies.” The companies will be asked to describe “Value Benefit Plans,” or VBPs. Section 2(b) describes how the VBPs are supposed to work. They must include “benefits for primary and preventive care participation in wellness programs, and incentives for plan participants to engage in healthier behavior.”

In other words, the VBPs will be high-cost, all-encompassing plans, not real insurance with high deductibles, like my wife and I currently purchase.

Here’s a big one: subsection VIII specifies that VBPs must take all comers, regardless of health, and charge everybody of the same age and region the same rate. In other words, the plans would force some people to subsidize the health expenses of others.

And here’s the penultimate requirement: XII states that the plans must “assume that all Colorado residents would be required to purchase health insurance.”

But Section 3 pushes the real work onto the 2010 legislature. “[T]he governor may reject proposals…” “If the governor recommends legislation and the general assembly chooses to pursue legislation…”

To quote the infamous Jayne Cobb, I’m smelling a lot of “if” coming off of this plan.

But, “if” the 2010 legislature chooses to screw Coloradans with more political controls of medicine, then it will impose mandates and a “mechanism to enforce” mandates “through the state tax laws.” The insurance plans would, of course, be subject to political approval. What the bill does not mention is that the plans would be subject to continual special-interest pressure to keep forcing up premiums.

Nor does the bill mention that the reason health insurance is too expensive for many people to afford is that politicians have for decades been undermining the insurance market with tax distortions, forced wealth transfers, and reams of mandates. SB 217 would impose more of the same.