Stop insurance company bailouts

Published 5:20 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The negative consequences and impacts of the president’s healthcare law continue to manifest themselves, with new and different problems emerging at every turn.

The law has not accomplished what its sponsors said it would accomplish; instead it has cost hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars, dramatically driven up premiums and deductibles and reduced consumer choices for both coverage and medical providers.

Many insurance providers have dropped out of federal health care exchanges since this government-knows-best scheme is not giving them what they bargained for when the law was negotiated.

The government-imposed rules and mandates for selling insurance in the federal marketplace interfere with the companies’ business models to the point where they either charge customers exorbitant premiums or risk insolvency.

Instead, these companies find it easier to just leave the marketplace in a given state rather than face those consequences.

This was entirely predictable, but concerning nonetheless because the lack of competition in many markets drives up prices for consumers even further while severely limiting their choices.

Last week, we learned from the Government Accountability Office that the administration has been illegally sending payments of hundreds of millions of dollars to health insurers to make up for revenue shortfalls, effectively trying to bail the companies out in a desperate effort to make the law more functional.

Not only is it outrageous that the administration is making such payments, but it is doing so in a way that is not authorized by law, transferring away funds that should instead be going to the Treasury to offset government spending.

The House Energy and Commerce committee has been investigating this matter for some time and is leading the charge to halt these illegal payments and restore the funds to the Treasury.

The president’s healthcare law has left a path of broken promises and damaging effects in the years since its implementation.

It is completely unreasonable to think that the government can just dictate outcomes in a massive and complex segment of our economy, and that theory has been proven throughout the last three years.

Americans would be much better off if we moved away from healthcare by government fiat toward a market-oriented system.

Auto insurance is highly competitive and reasonably affordable because of the rampant competition fostered by its marketplace.

We should utilize those concepts in the health insurance market to allow the forces of competition and choice to drive down prices, making coverage more affordable for all.

Our health care policy should be focused on making care less expensive and more accessible for all, but we are not going to achieve that with short-sighted government mandates and an administration that puts political priorities ahead of the hardworking American people.

Congress will continue to lead the way toward a market-oriented health care policy that helps the American people rather than bail out corporations.

Robert Hurt, a Republican, represents Lunenburg County in the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached at his Farmville office at (434) 395-0120.