In Aesop’s fable, a farmer and his wife own a goose that lays a golden egg every day. For a while, they revel in their good fortune but soon their baser instincts take over. Upset that they aren’t getting rich fast enough, they reason that under her feathers and skin, their goose must indeed be made of gold. Hoping to cash in, they kill the goose, only to discover that its insides are just the same as every other goose.
This fable comes to mind while watching both Massachusetts and the federal government wrestle with their health care laws. In Massachusetts, Senate President Theresa Murphy will move a bill that requires the state’s hospitals to make a one-time contribution to help pay for the health care of small businesses. If the legislation becomes law the hospitals will inevitably seek increases from the insurers, who will attempt to pass them on to consumers. No doubt the Commonwealth’s legislators will be incensed at this inevitability, but hey – that’s tomorrow’s problem.
Speaking of “tomorrow’s problem,” nowhere in the annals of the legislative continuum is the phrase “legislate in haste, repent at leisure” more appropriate than with the new federal health care law. And only the federal government would undertake the enterprise of trying to put the farmer’s goose back together and resuscitate her.
After months and months of savagely vilifying our industry, HHS Secretary Sibelius told an audience in Indianapolis last Friday that, “having insurers as ‘good partners’ is part of health care reform.” Of course, the Secretary offered no promises of toning down her anti-industry rhetoric. But Sibelius did say that HHS would soon be inviting “a host” of major geese … er … insurance companies, to help with the implementation of the new law. Keep your eye on that axe, fellows.
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