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The House Bill’s Health Insurance Czar

Posted By Julius Chen On July 18, 2009 @ 12:00 pm In Ongoing Priorities | Comments Disabled

If you dig through the giant 1,018-page House Democrats’ Tri-Committee Health Bill, you’ll find a new “czar.” The bill would place a federal “Health Choices Commissioner” at the helm of the newly-created Health Choices Administration. The Administration would run a brand new national health insurance exchange. For one official, the Commissioner would exercise enormous control over health insurance. While the House sponsors of the bill want the Commissioner to keep closer watch over the insurance industry, this amounts to an enormous concentration of power in one person.

It would also undermine the ability and the independence of the states to embark on their own health insurance market reforms.

In his testimony before the House Education and Labor Committee, Robert Moffit, Director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, stated,

Finally, I would note that the draft bill vests extraordinary power in the hands of the Commissioner, including the power to decide what state or group of states can or cannot set up or manage or maintain a state health insurance exchange. Federalism is a remarkable constitutional achievement. It means that the national government and the state governments are each supreme in their respective constitutional spheres; that the encroachment of one upon the other violates the spirit of federalism, the unique division of power enshrined in our Constitution. This is not a federal state partnership; it is federal domination of the states. It is also a prescription that could, and probably would, undermine much needed innovation in the provision of new health insurance options.

Currently, state regulators oversee insurance. State regulations may be imperfect, but the submission of state authority to the decisions of a single federal official is not the right answer. The House bill would constitute not only an unprecedented expansion of the federal government’s power, but also unnecessary intrusion into an area traditionally reserved for the states. In a free society, there should be no such concentration of power.


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