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Federal Enforcement To Be Used Against You, But Not To Protect You From The Insurance Companies

There is no better proof that the Senate bill is a massive giveaway to the health care industry than the radically different enforcement mechanism for the individual mandate and the new insurance regulations. This Senate bill will force you to buy insurance from only private insurance companies. It will use the power of the federal government in the form of the IRS to make sure you buy private health insurance.

While the Senate bill will technically put some new regulations on the books, it will not use the power of the federal government to make sure the health insurance companies are following them. Enforcement of new regulations is left completely up to the states, which, for the most part, have an extremely poor track record at this function.

This Senate bill will use the power of the federal government to force you to buy a very expensive product, but it refuses to use the power of the federal government to ensure this product meets even minimum standards of quality. It uses the sledge hammer of federal power to force middle class families to hand their money over to private insurance corporations, but handles the extremely powerful insurance companies with the soft kid gloves by leaving regulation enforcement up to the states. The imbalance of power between middle class consumers and insurance companies produced by this bill is shocking.

The House bill uses the power of the federal government in three ways to hold the insurance companies honest. It creates a national exchange with a national insurance regulation enforcement mechanism. It creates a national public health insurance option to serve as a check and benchmark for the private insurance companies. And, finally, it repeals the health insurance companies’ anti-trust exemption. These tools help put regular Americans on a more even footing against the private insurance companies.

It is both immoral and financially reckless to do what the Senate bill does. It uses the power of the federal government to force people to buy private insurance and gives the private insurance companies hundreds of billions in federal funds. Yet it does not use the power of the federal government to police the insurance companies to make sure they are not wasting the billions in federal funds they receive, or abusing their millions of federally mandated customers.

No one left, right, or center should accept this system which puts regular people in such a weak position compared to the private corporations with which they are force to do business. Attempts to justify the individual mandate by comparing it to Swiss, Dutch, or Belgian health care ignores the reality of those systems. Not other country forces people into such a powerless, subservient position compared to private companies. The Senate bill does not create social contract guaranteeing quality, affordable health care for everyone in exchange for mandating the buying of health insurance. It just forces people to buy a poor-quality product from an extremely wasteful, predatory, and poorly regulated industry.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker is political writer and blogger for FireDogLake. He is an expert on health care policy and the politics of health care reform.

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