A Northeastern Republican Governor proposes to use consumer overpayments of the mandated health insurance premiums paid to the state’s dominant health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, to underwrite his new pet cause of combating opioid addiction.
This plan is so foul, Christie is threatening (and planning as you read this) to shut down state parks on the eve of the Fourth of July weekend, because he has made his special asset seizure plan the requirement for his approving the state budget for next year (which starts tomorrow, July 1).
His allies in this sordid plan to expand government control over the poor, and many in the minority communities? Many state Democratic legislators.
Never mind that premiums are skyrocketing, deductibles and co-pays are slamming working class insurers and small businesses are avoiding hiring in order to save on the bill.
Christie, whom you should recall, actually ran for President as a Republican, ignores consumers. Instead, he proposes to treat the overpayment (how else does one get a large reserve?) as “house money” for the government to seize and redistribute to favored causes and organizations.
This power grab will hurt the poor, the working and middle classes and small businesses — all groups forced onto exchanges, which are provided by only two insurers (Horizon being the dominant one) in a state of nine million. It effectively turns a private, nonprofit insurer into a serf of the feudal bureaucratic state: it is government single payer health insurance for all practical purposes!
How bad is it to seize insurance reserves? These are funds retained for catastrophic events like natural disasters where scores of injured could swamp the system. However, reserves also represent the excess of customer payments over payments to providers, and bloated “administrative costs.” Put differently, reserves exist, because you pay too much for too little! That’s because nonprofits aren’t supposed to have “profits,” so you end up with excess compensation, all sorts of payments to workers. Shareholders don’t exist and don’t benefit. It’s the executive class and on down — the bureaucratic middleman gravy train — which cashes in. But remember: every dollar originates with a consumer, and under Obamacare, certain segments of the market are forced into exchanges.
Forced to pay extortionate rates. And with no recourse for substandard care, small provider networks, little choice of doctors even in urban areas.
How unjust is this? It’s the functional equivalent of the IRS keeping your tax refund — and then giving it to a tax commissioner’s favorite charity.
Or as a cynic might point out, giving it to those few and connected health care ‘providers’ in the drug treatment industry.
Not refunded. Never!
Incredibly, Christie has done this power grab arm twisting of businesses to benefit friends and cronies before. When he was United States Attorney in the last decade, he prosecuted some companies and secured settlements (deferred prosecution agreements) that called for the companies to hire special monitors (law firms of friends of his) or make large contributions to pet causes such as to Seton Hall Law School.
Which is, of course, Christie’s law school alma mater.
This is an abuse of power and an abuse of consumers. But the reserves become the newest slush fund for a governor with a 15 percent job approval rating to score brownie points.
This power grab, though, reveals the lie with Obamacare.
We are not really paying for our own health insurance.
We are paying for others. And if elected officials want to take our money for some other purpose — as everything can be argued a social benefit — then that is justifiable.
The burden is uneven. Perhaps that is why the Supreme Court majority did not find the mandate to be a “tax.”
As the Internal Revenue Service instructs us, it is a shared responsibility payment.
It is not insurance.
And it is a total scam.