No Man’s Life, Liberty or Property is Safe

… When the legislature is in session.

Since some folks want to discuss bills pending before the General Assembly, this is your Open Thread (limited to legislation before the Georgia General Assembly ONLY).

48 comments

  1. B Balz says:

    B Balz March 10, 2010 at 8:34 am

    @Erick. Pardon me, but I am thread-jacking, what in my opinion is a waste of bandwidth. Yesterday, at the State House:

    SB 330 – which outlaws lifetime and annual benefit caps in insurance plans as well as insurance rescission passed unanimously in the Senate insurance committee. I ask the House to consider this Bill, free of institutional rancor. It is good for Georgia.

    As well:

    House Bill 1040 allows unlicensed caretakers the ability to perform certain health maintenance activities in the home, such as medicine administration, catheter care, and tube feeding that only a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse can currently undertake.

    HB 1040 directly addresses the cost curve of providing healthcare, while SB330 provides ALL of us some relief from bankruptcy upon a catastrophic diagnosis.

    This is sensible State legislation, without a Federal and unfunded mandate.

    Next, let’s see Rep. Hill’s Bill which will help fund the existing State high Risk Pool insurance plan from the Insurance Premium Tax. The High Risk Pool planned is similar to the Idaho Re-Insurance model. This is good stuff.

    Finally, Ralph Reed is a busted tool of the first order, and I find the rumor that Rep. Balfour has anything to do with him extremely disconcerting.

    ByteMe March 10, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Let me ask a question that seems obvious to me about SB330: if it passes, exactly how is this bill going to prevent my insurance company from raising their rates 20% next year to cover the additional risk they are incurring? In turn, how will that not lead to more people being uninsured because of cost or because the insurance companies will refuse to underwrite them?

    I’m good with rescission rules, but eliminating any caps on liability will automatically increase the risk to the insurance company, so they will charge more for that risk. They will also hesitate to take anyone with any pre-existing condition or anyone over a certain age who might have bad genes.

    Please explain.

    B Balz March 10, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Good points, Byte.

    First, there is not any linkage between SB330 and increases in rates. If you pay more to get more, that’s OK. The way things are going, doing nothing is going to get you a 30% rate increase.

    We both know buying ‘extra insurance’ is usually pretty cheap. I would expect the same actuarial logic to prevail here.

    Though the elimination of caps raises SOME risk, I don’t that will lead to a 20% cost increase. Maybe 1%, or some smaller fraction of all claims will approach the cap.

    Every bit of legislation has blowback or unintended consequences. As well, the cost of ‘decisions in progress’ is high. What would be YOUR best idea?

    So far, the insurance companies, to my knowledge, don’t have access to genetic data. I hope they never do.

    • ByteMe says:

      Excellent way to jump start an open thread that will quickly devolve into name-calling and sock puppetry. It’s NOT OUR FAULT! 🙂

      If you eliminate the caps on liability, you immediately increase the potential liability, which means that it’ll automatically increase the cost (to go along with the increased risk). I agree that it’s something that needs to be done… but not in a vacuum.

      Everything right now is leading to an increase in rates. This isn’t going to do enough and insurers will use it as an excuse to tighten their qualifications.

      For company insurance policies this will just make rates go up (or reduce the coverage available, depending on how the business responds).

      For individual plans, what will happen is that they’ll become more picky about who they accept. Without real competition in the market — and in Georgia exactly one insurer owns over 70% of the individual health insurance market — then people are either going to be unable to get insurance or they will be unable to afford what gets offered.

      —–

      My best ideas have been detailed before and can be explained as follows:

      For a 5-6% payroll tax, the government provides a “bankruptcy protection” health insurance plan to all that is a high deductible plan with no lifetime or annual cap, 100% coverage for wellness checks, and every resident can use it with every doctor.

      The specific payroll tax is adjusted every year up or down depending on whether the amount paid by the plan in the previous year was more or less than what was collected (less administrative costs). In other words, the plan is self-funded by all employees and cannot run a deficit or a surplus for longer than one year.

      Provide a small payroll tax rebate to all individuals who maintain a healthy lifestyle (no smoking, no drugs, low body fat) for more than 3 years in a row as certified by their doctor.

      Businesses are free to then eliminate health plans entirely OR provide supplemental plans (from private insurers), HSAs, HRAs, or FSAs as a benefit to entice employees to join or stay.

      That’s on the coverage side. On the spending side, putting everyone on the plan means that even healthy people are on the plan, so it reduces the pool’s risk level and per-person cost.

      Also, change the medical malpractice lawsuit rules so that cases are heard by a panel of retired doctors who can then determine whether malpractice actually occurred. If so, the litigant is free to take it to jury or judge for damages (both economic, which go to the individual, and putative, which goes to fund the government medical plan). If not, the case ends.

      • B Balz says:

        YO! Libtard! (I AM JUST KIDDING)

        “…if you eliminate the caps on liability, you immediately increase the potential liability, which means that it’ll automatically increase the cost (to go along with the increased risk). …”

        The increased liability is addressed thru standard re-insurance techniques. It is NOT a dollar for dollar increase in premiums.

        “…Everything right now is leading to an increase in rates. This isn’t going to do enough and insurers will use it as an excuse to tighten their qualifications. …”

        Again, agreed, which is why the NEW Insurance Commission’s office ought to be an appointee. Strong consumer protection measures need to be enforced in the Brave New World of insurance.

        “…For individual plans, what will happen is that they’ll become more picky about who they accept. Without real competition in the market — and in Georgia exactly one insurer owns over 70% of the individual health insurance market — then people are either going to be unable to get insurance or they will be unable to afford what gets offered. …”

        Caps and recessions won’t really affect this. It is already happening.

        OK YOU Commie Weasel. I AM JUST KIDDING, I love this guy!

        “… For a 5-6% payroll tax…” you lost me there, Bro’ This sounds like an employer cost shift to shaft the employee. I had hi-deductible. If you are diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or any ‘quality of life’ type of disorder, you are toast. Who can afford $5K or $10K per year deducatible when they are sick?

        I like the tort reform and ‘carrots’ for healthy lifestyles a lot.

        • ByteMe says:

          Yeah, I was expecting “socialist” to be thrown at me.

          The thing I see is that right now, we’re spending on it anyway, so whether we shift it to the government to administer or shift the cost to the individual, the money is going to stay roughly about the same, but maybe if we get everyone in it, then we get to where we really need to be, which is a pool that’s large enough to cover everyone for just a little more than we’re spending now.

          Anyhow… yes, the payroll tax would be a cost shift, but it also encourages people to not use it if they will have ways to get money back for healthy lifestyle (I stole the carrot idea from a European country, by the way, but don’t remember which one). It makes our businesses more competitive with overseas labor costs, which is a big carrot for conservatives. It makes each of us responsible for our own health insurance instead of our employer. It levels the playing field for corporate plans vs. individual ones.

          And the availability of supplemental insurance should help close the high deductible affordability gap for some folks (I’m picturing $10K deductiblewith rebates for the lower class and private plans that employers could provide that might offer doctor visits for a small co-pay, something to lower the deductible to $3K… something like that with a relatively low cost overall, since the painful costs are already handled by the “anti-bankruptcy plan”).

          As for the chronically ill, they would likely qualify for a Medicaid subsidy now anyway.

          I don’t think appointing the insurance commissioner is helpful just because it’ll go to a political appointee who has the same “values” as the governor. But I agree that there needs to be a better way than what we have now, which is government-sanctioned corporate welfare.

          • B Balz says:

            I was being a wiseguy, Byte. That said, everyone knows everything is always better in Europe.

            “… As for the chronically ill, they would likely qualify for a Medicaid subsidy now anyway …”

            Byte, the way both ‘Caid and ‘Care are being disucssed, you’d think they were Congressional Cadillac Plans. we all know they are not. ‘Care is trying to lower the cost curve, BTW. It is not pretty.

            Perhaps you have not visited places that take ‘Caid, they are pretty wretched. Not because they are poorly run; they are just poorly funded. ‘Caid is not the answer for anyone you love.

            “…it’ll go to a political appointee who has the same “values” as the governor. …” Perhaps, though it doesn’t have to be that way.

            As it is now, the Ins. Comm is a shill for the industry they represent. Change that fact, and you have my attention, regardless of method.

            Thanks for looking at Deal/Burgess Bills, BTW. Your point about addressing the cost curve is critical at the macro level.

            • ByteMe says:

              I know you were kidding. It just depresses me the number of people who comment out here who are fine letting ideology and party politics get in the way of a good idea or a good outcome.

              I know that ‘caid and ‘care are not up to what the rest of us get. My mom-in-law is on it; my Mom has a supplemental plan that costs here $6K per year so she can see whoever she wants. I see the difference. The reality has always been poor (and old) people don’t get the great care, but at least they get something.

              I want to see HCR done right, but the politics are so poisonous and disconnected from our day-to-day reality.

              • B Balz says:

                We agree on that, neighbor.

                I returned from WDC last week, after advocating a Lifetime Respite Care Act, a Congressionally Mandated Medical Research Program, and a disease registry. Seemingly simple Bills for a greater good, yet each met with hurdles. Some are good points, others, not so much.

                One thing I have learned is that it is harder to find common points of interest, than it is to find ideological differences.

                You commented recently, and I paraphrase: America has faced difficult problems in the past, and did not fold. That means a lot to me.

                We will resolve these problems and we will do it in a manner that is workable for our citizens. To reason otherwise is unthinkable.

                • B Balz says:

                  BTW, with respect to your Mom’s situation:

                  “What would it mean to our economy if that $6K, multiplied by millions was not spent by the individual?”

                  I mean, is it better to spend $6K, after tax, or spend $6K in taxes and get the advantage of a governmental buy, if done efficiently?

                  That’s where ideology and econ meet on the horizon.

                  • ByteMe says:

                    The difference between $6K after tax and $6K in taxes — if done efficiently — should be no difference.

                    As for Mom, she gets Medicare and this is just a supplemental program from private insurance to bridge any gaps in the coverage she wants to have bridged. That’s the pattern I envision writ much larger.

                    But, as you saw on your trip, getting a good solution enacted is often more about politics than the underlying policy.

                    Saw a good quote from Winston Churchill yesterday: “Americans will always do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the alternatives.” Sounds right.

    • polisavvy says:

      A moderate? Just because you don’t support school vouchers does not mean that you are a moderate. Representative Scott probably feels as I do that school vouchers merely “pass the buck” on fixing the public education system in the state of Georgia. Considering the fact that over 90% of all educated children in Georgia get their education from public schools, turning your back on Georgia’s public schools will be the kiss of death for Georgia attracting businesses to the state if our students are poorly educated. Bringing business to the state of Georgia is a cornerstone of capitalism which is always championed by conservatives, NOT MODERATES.

      As far as Representative Scott’s take on protecting the environment, so sorry you don’t feel that it is important for our citizens to enjoy the beautiful land and wildlife that Georgia has to offer without it being destroyed. Also, by protecting Georgia’s environment, you are also protecting the livelihood of many shrimpers, crabbers, and fishermen on the coast — all of which are vital to Georgia’s economy.

      A moderate? I think not.

        • polisavvy says:

          I certainly realize that, Dave, but he did not specify what type of moderate. There is nothing wrong by being viewed as a moderate. Representative Scott is a not a moderate, he’s a conservative.

          • polisavvy says:

            Are you saying that a person who is a conservative cannot be considered a pragmatist as well? That there is no way that the two can co-exist? I think it’s quite possible; but, of course, that’s just my opinion. [By the way, you’ve had some pretty good posts lately and I’ve enjoyed them].

            • B Balz says:

              @polisavvy: I guess you lost me at “…A moderate? Just because you don’t support school vouchers does not mean that you are a moderate. …” which implies to me that a moderate viewpoint is a bad thing.

              Perhaps in some Districts anything less than a John Birch, Bat Scheissen crazy conservative is a bad thing.

              Labels and pidgeon holes are for mailmen and birds, respectively, and respectfully.

              • polisavvy says:

                Oh no, B Balz, that’s not what I was meaning at all. I think moderate and conservative can co-exist in the world just fine. I was just meaning that the way he worded it, it made it sound like it was a bad thing. Loved your pigeon hole analysis. Pretty funny! 🙂

    • Scott65 says:

      It also shows Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) votes for AT&T against the people he represents. He is the one who changed the language to benefit AT&T

  2. Glen Ross says:

    Finally, an open thread. I’ll repost this from the Ox/Oscars thread:

    Has anyone considered having Georgia’s top budget officer elected rather than appointed by the Gov? Our Director of OTFS is the equivalivent of the State Treasurer (CFO, Comptroller, etc) of many other states. Of the 49 states that have a similar office, only 11 are appointed and one is “elected” by the legislature. I really like idea of having this function of government operating separate of direct influence of the Gov or legislature.

    I would be fine with seeing Labor, Edu, and Insurance appointed and having this one elected. Thoughts?

    • B Balz says:

      I am more for having an appointee, as long as the office has both oversight and a clear, objective role. In other words, an Insurance Commissioner, with the same role as current, is less accountable – Same for all the others.

      • Glen Ross says:

        I agree on clear and objective role, but on oversight….look at who has oversight of it now: Sonny “What’s this fiscal conservatism thing these idiots keep crowing about?” Perdue, and the wonderful wahoos in our glorious legislature. Some of them are good men who do a good job. Others should be allowed oversight on a lemonade stand.

            • B Balz says:

              It is not rocket science to appoint a Blue Ribbon, non-partisan ‘ombudsman’ panel consisting of a few academics, business, and legal types on it.

              The Governor ought not have control over the panel, nor should the legislators. The panel could have the powers of a grand jury over appointees and ethics issues.

              Of course, that is only if the people demand change, and not the kind you make believe in.

  3. Rambler1414 says:

    Anyone else tracking the transportation funding bills?

    I never would’ve guessed that we’d go another session without any kind of agreement between the House & Senate, but that’s looking more and more like a legitimate concern.

  4. chefdavid says:

    I would like to call mine for open government vs fer the good ole boys.
    On the Side of open government
    HB 1116 Doesn’t allow legislatures to make any money either directly or indirectly from and county municipality or school board in their district. (This one has no chance in passing)
    HB 1303 This makes municipalities really give notice in the papers.
    HB 1305 This actually will give you a right to speak at a public meeting. Currently there is no requirement to have citizen participation on the agenda at regular meetings.

    On the Side of the Good ole boys
    SB 456 This allows directors and employees of DDA to hold office. I think that is how I read it.
    SB 84 I put this one on the side of the good ole boys because in it’s nepotism clause it grandfathers in all of the “good ole boys” who are on school boards right now. Current law bars those that fall under the nepotism rule from seeking re-election. Other than that I like the law.

  5. chefdavid says:

    Funny how some lawmakers in TN are actually trying to pass some good constitutional admendments that keep the money in your pocket instead of the other way around………….
    A constitutional amendment permanently banning an income tax and a payroll tax passed the Senate Finance Committee today………
    http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_170702.asp
    If we don’t win the water war they could just sell ATL some water and possibly eliminate property taxs too.

  6. Game Fan says:

    this is your Open Thread (limited to legislation before the Georgia General Assembly ONLY).

    Shouldn’t this be called a semi-open thread? Or a quasi-open thread?
    How about “a teeny tiny portion of reality thread”?

    • chefdavid says:

      We have nothing to worry about in our district after authoring a bill with the words…”Notice of the intention of a county to opt into the district shall be transmitted by the governing authority of such county to the district, to the governing authority of each qualified municipality within such county, and to the governing authority of each county within such district not less than ten days prior to a vote on a resolution for such purpose.”..
      and the caption ….
      A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 8 of Title 48 of the O.C.G.A., relating to sales and use taxes, so as to provide for a 1 percent sales tax to be used to fund transportation projects in special transportation districts within the state; to provide for the creation of such districts, the governance thereof, and the development of a list of transportation projects by the district; to provide that each county may opt out of the district; to provide for contracting and constructing of the transportation projects on the regional lists; to provide for exemptions; to provide for related matters; to provide for a conditional effective date; to provide for automatic repeal; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”
      After taking so much time last year to craft said legislation how could you then this year take out the county option? I don’t care what you guy’s say. Senate District 53 is safe and all counties in our district will be able to opt out. After all he is number one on the bill.

    • B Balz says:

      And also having a tough time getting much traction. Seems like the Ins Commish offcie is concerned that there will be jurisdictional issues on how to protect the consumer. If the ins is written in Wisconsin, and there is a problem in GA, how has venue?

      Details, details, the Bill makes sense, and I fear this is a sham objection.

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