Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts’s healthcare proposal (PDF) strikes me as a hodgepodge with components at odds with each other. There doesn’t appear to be a guiding principle, creating the risk that the good points of the program would put a reform-like light on the bad parts, potentially without even passing themselves.
New representative Frank Ferri (D, Warwick) today put forward a bill advancing one of the better suggestions:
The legislation (2008-H 7493) — which Representative Ferri is submitting in conjunction with Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts as part of her “Healthy Rhode Island” health reform act — would allow health insurers licensed in Massachusetts and Connecticut to offer insurance products in Rhode Island without having to get any additional licenses.
This reciprocal licensing would make Rhode Island a more inviting market to insurers, and could increase the number of insurers in the state. Currently, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and United HealthCare of New England are the only insurers licensed in Rhode Island.
But other parts of Healthy RI increase state government involvement, fine employers that don’t provide health insurance coverage $1,000 per employee per year. and layer on mandates, such as the requirement that all dependent “children” up to age 25 may be covered under their parents’ policies whether they’re in school or not. Representative (D, Providence) Edith Ajello’s mandate appears to be additional:
A state mandate already requires insurers to cover fertility treatment for women between the ages of 25 and 42 who are otherwise healthy but are unable to achieve or sustain pregnancy for a period of a year or more. But under current law, the mandate applies only to married women.
Arguing that that the stipulation is discriminatory and would not be permissible in other areas of state law, Representative Ajello has submitted legislation (2008-H 7239) to eliminate the word “married” from the mandate and extend coverage to all 25- to 42-year-old women, regardless of their marital status.
So the state is seeking to attract insurers to Rhode Island, and it may force employees to finance the policies, and it’s going to require everybody over four times poverty to have a plan, while layering on regulations that will drive the price up — all under the increasingly pervasive watch of the nation’s most corrupt and (arguably) incompetent government. Shouldn’t health-conscious politicians be attempting to lower citizens’ stress levels?