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Another fine mess

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“But I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess.” That was how President Obama characterized our industry on August 6, 2009. Given recent headlines, perhaps it is time for those of us who actually understand the business to issue the same rejoinder to Congress and the regulatory agencies.

Before anyone whips out their poison pen, I’ll reiterate my previous rejoinder: It was unquestionable that some insurance company practices needed to be “reformed.” The omnibus health care plan may have accomplished some of those reforms, but it also created a giant mess which is growing daily. The oil spill in the Gulf will be controlled long before the health care mess is sorted out.

“Study Points To Health Law’s Penalty,” reads a headline. A little-noticed provision of the bill levies an employer penalty if premiums paid by employees amount to more than 9.5% of their household income. “Health Care Study Calls Risk Pool Money Lacking” cries another recent headline. It seems that the law doesn’t allocate nearly enough money to cover the estimated 5.6-7 million people who qualify for the high risk pools. Yet another article explores cites the inevitable premium increases from providers cost shifting to offset lower Medicare reimbursements.

These headlines didn’t come from the Republicans or right-wing radio – they came from the New York Times. Even the New York Times understands that their friends in Congress have legislated in haste and America must now repent at leisure. Regardless, we have a first-class mess to clean up. In that August 6 speech, the President also said, “We’ve to some work to do.” No argument there, Mr. President.

Check out more blog entries from David Saltzman.


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