Rate review bill confirms two of skeptics’ fears

by Robert Maynard

Two of the concerns that advocates of health care freedom have expressed over our “government knows best” approach to health care reform is that the government’s ability to control costs is less than what reform advocates claim and that we are putting to much control over decisions into the hands of an unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy.  The “rate review bill” that recently passed out of the Senate confirms these two concerns.  Here is how a Vermont Digger article characterized the bill:

What started out as a streamlining of the state’s health insurance rate review process has morphed into a costlier bill with two new appendages and a life of its own.

When S.152 passed out of the Senate, it only contained language that provided the Green Mountain Care Board with the “sole authority” to approve, modify and deny health insurance rates. It’s a move that lawmakers and insurers laud as a win-win-win for themselves and consumers.

The fact that a bill that was intended to streamline the state’s health insurance rate review process “has morphed into a costlier bill” is no surprise to those who have always questioned the government’s ability to control costs.  Of more concern is the concentration of yet more “authority” in the hands of the unelected and unaccountable Green Mountain Care Board.  Those who support the ideal of health care freedom  see this as a win only for those seeking to centralize political power in their own hands.  Apparently, as way of passifying those who have been raising such concerns, an amendment was added to the bill: “But on Tuesday, the House Health Care Committee voted 8-3 to pass out the bill with two new amendments, which would create the Office of the Health Care Advocate and a pilot program for physicians to operate without prior authorizations from health insurers.”  The problem with this approach is that is does not move away from the “government knows best” approach to health care reform and embrace a patient centered approach.  Instead it merely adds another government bureaucracy to the decision making process.  These people simply do not get it.  The goal should be to empower patients, not government bureaucracies.