The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Memo to Gov. Sanford: Call Sonny Perdue About Health Care Reform

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If you’re anything like me, you’re at the point where you wish the federal health care “debate” would just go away for a while. First things first, though: there is no real debate and there hasn’t been for a long time, if ever – only a power play by desperate congressional leaders and their president.

If there had been a real debate on health care, we would have heard how free market reforms could lower the price of health care for everyone.

The single most important reform South Carolina could enact would be lifting insurance coverage mandates and allowing the purchase of out-of-state policies. We have written about that in detail in our Best & Worst legislative guide.

Unfortunately, the S.C. General Assembly seems intent on expanding, rather than lifting, coverage mandates.

But what about Governor Sanford? The governor has consistently advocated free market health care reform, especially in relation to Medicaid.

And if federal health care legislation has all but made state-based Medicaid reform impossible for now, the governor could take a cue from his neighbor to the south – Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia.

Georgia Public Policy Foundation Senior Fellow Ronald Bachman commends Perdue for taking the lead in trying to create a voluntary multi-state market for health insurance consumers.

Writes Bachman:

The cross-state concept has been accepted by Republicans and Democrats as a good starting point for national bipartisan reform. Studies have shown that up to 12 million Americans would become insured with effective national legislation for cross-state selling. While Congress debates, however, Governor Perdue innovates.  His push for free-market insurance reform is embodied in bills making their way through Georgia’s House and Senate. The slight differences will likely be ironed out when the two bills are merged.

Georgia’s legislation has two major components. First, it promotes a unilateral acceptance of comprehensive individual health policies from other states. As a show of good faith, Georgia would accept individual health policies approved in other selected states without the requirement that they accept policies approved here. There are, of course, minimum standards and consumer protections governing the acceptance of such policies.

Second, the real power and value of the cross-state selling concept is to establish a coalition of states with a combined large consumer base that will encourage insurers to develop and bring new, low-cost and affordable plans to Georgia. Currently, the 50 state-specific state filing processes take insurers years and millions of dollars in development costs, administrative mandates, filing requirements and fees.

Clearly, South Carolina could further Georgia’s efforts by also recognizing health policies approved in that state. Whether this could be done by executive order alone is unlikely, but the governor could at least become part of the dialogue by working with the Legislature and the Department of Insurance to replicate the reforms being pursued in Georgia.

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Written by SC Policy Council

March 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Posted in Healthcare

Tagged with , ,

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