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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Health Care Reform and Interstate Commerce 

One provision conservatives are challenging when the Supreme Court hears the legality of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) is the concept of the law's apparent override of interstate commerce laws with regard to buying health care insurance. (Unfortunately, Maine's legislature defeated a provision today March 19, which would have included health insurance exchanges in our state - sadly undermining a provision of the Affordable Care Act....)

From my understanding, the Republican opposition is hypocritical because they are the party who came up with this idea in the first place. What it means is: states now have insurance laws restricting their ability to sell products across state lines. That's why, for example, a person in Maine is unable to buy practically any insurance in a state with cheaper rates.

When the ACA takes effect, consumers will be able to access competitively priced health insurance.  Insurance providers will be able to create competitive products that currently are not allowed because of restrictions on interstate commerce regarding insurance products.

This deregulating provision of the ACA is something Republicans have been in favor of, until somewhere along the political divide, it was decided to oppose it, for no reason. Common sense tells me Republicans should embrace the proposed deregulation of interstate commerce barriers as being in the best interest of a "free market".

The Washington Post reports today (Sunday March 18):

"In six hours of oral argumentsover three days later this month — the most time the court has spent on a case in 45 years — the Obama administration will try to convince the justices that the Constitution grants Congress broad power to regulate interstate commerce and provide for the national interest. Broad enough to require that almost every American purchase health insurance or pay a penalty."

Although the "mandate" proposal in the ACA might be an issue some people oppose, the reality is that someone, somewhere, pays for all health care provided in the United States. Therefore, it make sense to require everybody to pay for their own health insurance, if they can afford it, rather than cost shift the expense for those who don't pay to those who are already over-paying.

In other words, if health care insurance were competitively priced, more people can buy it.

Deregulating the interstate commerce law for insurance will allow consumers to shop for competitive rates across state lines or through certain compacts or arrangements between carriers.

What could be more pro-free market or capitalist than that?

But, our US Supreme Court must rule based upon the law as it currently exists, or so I believe to be the case.
Therefore, Republicans are now supporting a law they wanted to do away with before they figured out how real middle class people might benefit from the deregulation.

Deregulation of the inter-state commerce for the purpose of consumers being able to purchase affordable health care insurance will not automatically pour revenues into the the insurance industries' financials. But it might help the middle class, many of them without health care insurance.


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