Free Care and Process
Although his bill has entered the limbo of “held for further study,” state Representative Brian Newberry (R, North Smithfield) deserves recognition for submitting it. An article about the bill’s hearing raises two points that merit comment:
The committee ultimately held the bill for further study, a move that Committee Chairman Helio Melo said will allow members to do their homework and hear testimony on similar bills before making a decision.
That sounds reasonable enough, but one has to wonder: Shouldn’t committee members, in general, do their homework before the public hearing? Presumably interested stakeholders and informed members of the public will appear before committees for hearings; how are legislators going to ask them intelligent, productive questions if they do not address their ignorance beforehand? And, more to the specific point, what homework could there possibly remain to be done on such a simple — and long-mentioned — change of policy?
The second point addresses the other side:
The other speaker, Deloris Issler, representing the Cranston Tea Party, said her local group opposes the bill, not because a 20-percent co-share “would be bad, but it stops way short of what it needs to do” at a time when many small-business owners can’t afford health insurance, yet are expected to subsidize plans for part-time lawmakers.
“We would call on all of you to end the benefits,” she said.
I’ve said it before: Representatives and Senators put in a fair bit of time, over the course of the year, much of it at inconvenient hours, and it’s reasonable to compensate them. My fellow Tea Party types rightly make much of the fact that, for example, the unions were able to rally during the workday in Wisconsin, while the taxpayer groups had to wait until the weekend because they had to work. The same applies to government office.
If we rely purely on civic responsibility to draw citizens to public office, we’ll wind up with leaders who have some method of profiting from their offices in some indirect way. That tends to be an insidious species of corruption.