Sunday, March 22, 2009

A step in the right Direction

A step in the right direction.

Usually when I read a bill proposal put forth by our legislators in Augusta, the not so subtle music of a circus begins to flow through my mind. Barnum and Bailey’s quick paced and chaotic theme which plays when the clowns race out to perform their acts of amusement, pounds away as I take in the words so carefully contrived to confuse by our leaders. In all actuality, the music helps me understand what is written and makes me smile as I come to grips with another form of mischief manufactured by the “best of our society”.

Sometimes, you just have to laugh.

Much to my surprise, the last bill that came to me arrived without the expected music. A complete and utter silence surrounded each paragraph as I read along through LD 290 "An Act to Allow Maine Residents to Purchase Health Insurance from Out-of-state Insurers."
Confusion washed over me as I studied the common sense approach to health insurance costs put forth by Rep. McKane of Newport. Confusion, because I have become accustomed to reading bills whose contents either do nothing at all, except flatter the vanity of the sponsors, or which further burden the Maine taxpayers by making them fund another useless program. It is refreshing, to say the least, to finally find a bill in which I find neither vanity nor devilry.

Allowing Maine residents and small businesses to go out of state to purchase polices would be of great benefit to thousands of citizens. They would receive coverage at a reduced rate thus premiums would so too go down. This in turn would make insurance more affordable for the individual. However, I believe that the projected savings will not be huge, for the cost of health care in Maine still ranks very high in the nation. If the cost of administration is higher here in Maine than, let’s say Massachusetts, the insurer will have to take that into consideration when assessing the risk. They will be forced to roll that figure into their rates and pass that on to the consumer. So the idea that our new fought freedoms would produce savings of up to 50%, as some have suggested, cannot be sustained. I would surmise it will be more like 10-15%, if that. Of course, a savings of 10-15% is nothing to sneeze at, especially during these trying economic times.

Circumventing the virtual monopoly of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in the individual and small group market, LD 290 will force that company and its affiliates to either abandon the market all together like it did in New Hampshire in 2005, or change its rates to compete and retain its market share. Conceivably they just may spend hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying the State legislature for a bail out, which seems likely considering the mania for bail out programs these days. Rest assured, Anthem will not favor this bill one bit, nor will those legislators who receive campaign contributions from the insurance giant.

We all know what a terrible mess Maine’s insurance market is. Guaranteed issue, Community Rating, Guaranteed renewal, and outrageous mandates have all combined to drive rates and premiums through the roof. The individual and small group market has essentially been destroyed by these laws and insurance carriers have been forced to leave the state because of them. We are in a quagmire, of well intentioned folly which has strangled the citizens of this state far too long.

In 2005, to correct the problems surrounding the failed polices of guaranteed issue and community rating, Maine introduced the Dirigo health plan instead of deregulating the state insurance industry. This too has failed though it is well intentioned like all such programs; it was based upon the very same theories that caused the insurance industry collapse to begin with i.e. guaranteed issue and community rating. So the Dirigo fix to the fix sits in the corner not fulfilling even a tenth of its promise to insure 130,000 people whilst our legislature keeps throwing money into the burning heap hoping that somehow this will quell the flames.

LD 290 does not address the issues of community rating, mandates, or guaranteed issue.

It by passes these issues cleverly, and would ultimately bring some relief to many Maine citizens. It is “a step in the right direction” on the road to rebuilding an equitable deregulated insurance market in our state. By opening the door to competition, and delivering unto the Maine people the opportunity to save some money, it will also stimulate our economy. The saved premium dollars for individuals will be spent in their communities, and for businesses those dollars will be reinvested in their companies, possibly saving if not creating jobs. There is no down side to this bill which I can see, and I hope with all my heart that this passes committee and then becomes law.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sooeyyyy ,Sooeyy

Sooeyyyy ,Sooeyy

When the pig farmer calls his hogs to the trough, he yells Sooeyyy, Sooeyyy, as a notice that its time to feed. The hogs come a running through the muck and mire, jostling one another and squealing as they race to be the first. Little nips and bites occur as each tries to establish his or her place at the bin of food. If the herd is comprised of larger animals for breeding this event can be quite violent. We have all heard the tales of people falling into a pig pen during feeding.

Well it seems its feeding time.

As Chellie Pingree, Mike Michaud, Sue Collins and Olympia Snowe all dance around in glee over their support for the Porkulus package they are screaming Sooeyyy, Sooeyyy, calling our towns and cities to the bin. Ms Pingree has even assigned a point person to help some of the more feeble piggies get to the feast. Titled “Recovery Czar” this new bureaucrat will “field inquiries from municipalities, businesses, individuals and organizations interested in funding or how it will work.”

Interesting choice of name, Czar. If my history studies are correct the Czars of Russia where what we might call Kings. They ruled Russia as a Monarchy for 300 plus years until through their decadence, and foolish handling of the economy the people rebelled. That rebellion, brought on by hunger, injustice and loathing of the aristocratic class and its lifestyle was the beginning of one of the most terrible nations our earth has borne witness to, the Soviet Union.

I do not like the idea of a Czar, in any form, any more than I like the concept of a King. The term brings up images of one like Czar Alexander II who thought he was directly ascended from God, and that his word was the will of God himself. I suppose for those who know not what the term means using the title flippantly could be excused. Not unlike excusing a child of their ignorance on matters worldly, when they attempt to explain concepts beyond their reach.

Mike Michaud, has created two different two guides -- one aimed at municipalities, the other at small businesses and individuals -- to answer questions about how the stimulus will affect Maine and how different groups can use it.

How nice, though at first Mike stood tall against this bill, it seems he is now on board fully. For sure Lewiston, that fairest of Maine cities, along with Portland will be the biggest beneficiaries of the Stimulus/taxpayer dollars as they have 72 ready to go projects between them. Perhaps this was what changed his stance, for we all know Mike has a soft spot in his huge heart for Lewiston, that gem beside the Androscoggin.

Governor Baldacci licking his thin lips in anticipation of new funds to pilfer, rubbed his weak hands together and smiled……….

So come all ye hungry piggies, line up to the call, and take another bite out of what made this Nation great. Your master is calling ye……

Piss Off