Thursday, February 14, 2008

Huntsman Plans to Implement HillaryCare in Utah

Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. has threatened the state’s health insurance industry that if they don’t shape up and “play ball” by next year, he is going to seek an individual mandate (see SL-Trib article). An “individual mandate” would entail creating a law requiring all Utah citizens to purchase health insurance.

OK, let’s parse the logic behind the governor’s threat of government coercion. If the health insurance industry does not discontinue responding to market forces and respond instead to political forces — if they do not live up to some kind of unspecified standard that exists in the governor’s head (presumably making health insurance accessible and affordable to all Utahns) — he is going to force all Utahns to purchase health insurance from the insurance industry.

Can someone please help me out with this one? Apparently I’m too dense to get it. Let me try one more time. If health insurance companies do not defy the market and offer unprofitable low cost health plans to everyone, the governor is going to force the state’s citizens to buy health insurance from these companies.

Let’s see now. “If you guys don’t kill your profits,” our esteemed governor is saying, “I’m going to bring you more customers than you can imagine. In fact, they won’t be able to get away from you, because I’m going to make it illegal for them not to buy your products.” Can someone explain to me how this kind of tough talk incentivizes health insurance companies to turn themselves into public charities?

The fact is that the insurance companies are very happy to hear this kind of Stalinist drivel. They would love to have a captive customer base. The small amount of competition that exists today will become largely unnecessary, despite rhetoric calling the governor’s universal health care plan “market based.”

The push for an “individual mandate” puts Governor Huntsman to the left of Barack Hussein Obamathe most liberal senator of 2007 — and puts him in league with Hillary Clinton on this issue. Huntsman, like Clinton, favors compassion by coercion. Let’s see. Mormons have a story about some guy in the pre-earth life that had a plan like that.

As explained in this WSJ editorial, Obama loves the whole universal health care thing, but he draws the line at mandating that individuals purchase health insurance — except for children. Obama simply says that most people that don’t have health insurance are in that situation because they can’t afford it, not because they don’t want it. Forcing them to buy something they can’t afford is more harmful than not having health insurance, he claims.

But we don’t have to discuss this matter in a vacuum. We have a test case we can look at. RomneyCare in the People’s Democratic Republic of Massachusetts has the individual mandate feature. How is that working out for them?

Shikha Dalmia of the Reason Foundation explains in this WSJ article that with the implementation of RomneyCare, premiums and medical expenses in the Bay State are now climbing at more than double the rate prior to implementation. State lawmakers are predictably responding by creating price caps. Price caps ensure lower quality care, longer wait times, and rationing. The high costs of the program are causing many to pay the fine for not buying health insurance and to go without. Those that can least afford it are being hit hardest. With the deteriorating quality of care, those that can afford to do so are going outside of the system and paying high out-of-pocket expenses for higher quality care.

Universal health care proponents can say that everyone in Massachusetts now has access to health insurance, but this is pretty much a sham. Dalmia cites one doctor’s apt diagnosis, that “Forcing people to buy substandard care they cannot afford is not universal care. It is a hoax.”

Last month, another liberal GOP governor, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to pass a HillaryCare/RomneyCare type plan (dubbed GovernatorCare by some) through one of the most liberal state legislative bodies in the nation. But the plan failed to pass because labor unions correctly “argued that a mandate would force uninsured, middle-income working families to divert money from more pressing needs toward coverage whose price and quality they cannot control.”

News of this kind of thing appears not to have reached Governor Huntsman. He is already ramping up to ram HuntsmanCare (or maybe it should be called JonCare) through the legislature in 2009. HB133 is just the prelude to this push. Between now and the 2009 session, Governor Huntsman must stand for re-election. Despite the fact that his policies fit better in the Democratic Party than the Republican Party, his high approval rating makes it inconceivable that heavily Republican Utah will refuse to re-elect him.

Governor Huntsman will take his re-election to mean that he has a mandate to impose a mandate upon you and all of your neighbors. Unlike California, however, labor unions will not come to the rescue of Utahns. My question is who will stand up against Governor Huntsman’s Stalinist coercion and stop his JonCare before Utahns have his brand of compassion rammed down their throats. The legislature appears willing to go along with the governor’s health coercion plan. Is there anyone up there that will stop it?


Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying exactly what I've been thinking ever since I heard about this push by Huntsman - right down to the part about "some guy in the pre-earth life that had a plan like that."

Anonymous said...

P.S. Count me in among those who are willing to do all we can to stop this.

That means we need to find a way to make a lot more noise about the issue.

Anonymous said...

Very frustrating.

What can be done? What can I do? Vote? I already did that hoping for a conservative in Huntsman. Boy was I deceived. I would like to count on my elected officials to do what is in my best interest so that I don't have to get involved at every turn. My life is busy too.

Does Huntsman have national aspirations? Why has Utah elected such a liberal governor?

Very frustrating indeed.

Scott Hinrichs said...

Utah has elected a string of liberal governors, some with D's by their names; others with R's. Utahns like to talk about being conservative, but the fact is that they don't really believe it in practice, except for hewing strongly to moral conservatism. Some are strong on foreign policy conservatism. But few really want anthing to do with fiscal conservatism.

After the depression got under way, Utahns loved FDR's socialist policies, making Utah reliably Democratic until the Democratic Party embraced hedonism during the culture wars. Then morally conservative Utahns became Republicans. But they have never lost their penchant for big government spending.

Quesi said...

Yeah, I am noticing that Utahns are liberal, much more so than I thought. Huntsman has jumped on the global warming policy changes, socialized health care, and so on.