Government Can’t Just Dictate Reality
I certainly don’t want any of my family’s regular expenses going up. Indeed, if I were able to dictate terms to companies who provide me services, I’d lower my rates. But that’s not how the world works. Of course, one doesn’t get the impression that government officials comprehend such mundane observations of reality.
Rhode Island’s Health Insurance Advisory Council, for example, in considering insurers’ requests to increase their rates, acknowledges that “most of the proposed increases result from growing hospital and pharmaceutical costs.” But the body can only think to posture and demand more squeezing from the companies. Several candidates for public office who put in an appearance at the hearing had nothing additional to offer:
State General Treasurer Frank Caprio, a candidate for governor, offered the council
“an update from kitchen tables across the state.” He said bills are piling and people are forced to cut back. “I respectfully ask you to say, ‘Enough is enough’ to these insurers,” Caprio said.
Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts, a candidate for reelection, acknowledged that medical inflation was the underlying problem, but urged Koller to push insurers to develop proposals for dealing with it. “We need to put the challenge on the table,” she said.
State Sen. Leonidas P. “Lou” Raptakis, D-Coventry, a candidate for secretary of state, suggested linking health-insurance premiums to the consumer price index.
Why is nobody proposing the clear solution to the problem of increasing in-state health insurance? Look, our mechanism for dictating terms to those who provide us services is to find another provider willing to agree to them. A market of just three insurers is clearly not enough, so we need to bring others in. To do that — and to enable them to keep down costs — we’ve got to lighten up our mandates and regulations.
Unfortunately, we’re learning that the one thing that Rhode Island’s ostensible leaders will not consider is decreases to their own authority. That’s why we have to apply a political version of the Central Falls high school “turnaround model”: Vote them all out of office and reelect no more than the one percent or so who might have something resembling a clue.