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Now now, liberals, you can no longer smugly declare in political arguments, “the Republicans don’t even have a health care plan,” because they do! John Boehner released the GOP alternative plan a few days ago, and the CBO scored it, to much fanfare. It is but a modest (Very Responsible Centrist) plan to save America from the Muslims. One of its central tenets — and the health care thing you’ve been hearing Republicans blab on about most, after they’ve exhausted tort reform — is to allow consumers to purchase health care plans across state lines. Doesn’t that sound nice, for competition and pricing? But what if… what if many of the health insurers then set up shop in the “state” of the Northern Marianas, where there is not a single law against anything?

No one really trusted the Republicans when they claimed their plan would introduce new regulations regarding coverage of people with pre-existing conditions, elimination of lifetime caps, etc. This might be one reason why (sorry if it gets wonky, THIS STUFF IS IMPORTANT, THE GOP PLAN MIGHT PASS!):

Under Title III ‘State’ is defined as the fifty states, D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Marianas (p.122). Insurers are allowed to designate any ‘State’ as their ‘Primary State’ which if we go back to p.199 is defined: “the term ‘primary State’ means with respect to individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer, the State designated by the issuer whose covered laws shall govern the health insurance issuer in the sale of such coverage under this part”. On page 121 we see that ‘covered laws’ include such ‘laws, rules, regulations’ governing among other things the ‘offer, sale, rating (including medical underwriting), renewal and issuance of individual health insurance to an individual’.

After a few pages of excruciating bureaucratese we come to the following on page 126: “The covered laws of the primary State shall apply to individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer in the primary State and in any secondary state,” And this is backed up by some mandatory disclosure language on page 130 that warns insurees that their new policy is not subject to any laws of the state in which it is purchased including those which might require “SOME SERVICES OR BENEFITS MANDATED BY THE LAW OF THE STATE”. “ADDITIONALLY THIS POLICY IS NOT SUBJECT TO ALL THE CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWS AND RESTRICTIONS ON RATE CHANGES OF THE STATE”. (CAPS in original).

Now this language is followed by a bunch more pages setting out rules about lawsuits and appeals but the bottom line is pretty clear: should private insurers choose they can officially choose the Virgin Islands or the Northern Marianas as the governing jurisdiction for all their individual insurance policies and their [sic] is basically nothing the states of California, New York or Washington can do about it.

This is not to suggest that there aren’t endless streams of loopholes in every Democratic bill. But probably not nearly as many! Sometimes it takes 1,990 pages to weed them out.

Sweatshop Insurance: O’Boehner Care & the Northern Marianas [MyDD via Think Progress]

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78 COMMENTS

  1. Hah! Tom Tancredo just cold walked off the set of David Shuster’s imitation of the Ed Schultz TV show after parroting the party-line bullshit of the public option being the worst threat to our freedoms this side of MediCare and the VA. Markos Moulitsas killed his ass by proclaiming himself to be a veteran rather than a draft-dodger like Tancredo. I laughed and laughed.

  2. Also, interstate insurance agreements mean a need for federal regulation of such insurance products, which inevitably leads to BIGGER GOVERNMENT. Isn’t the GOP against such a thing??

    Also.

  3. Just like the Republans to put a zinger in there: buy your cheap-ass health insurance from the one company that sells it in Alabammy, but if the Alabammy legislature should ever spit out its collective chaw long enough to notice that health insurance there sucks, and should then decide to do something about it, like with a “law” or some shit like that, it wouldn’t apply to your out-of-state policy there in hippie/gay Collie-forna. Oh Boner you be so smart!

  4. [re=452781]MLHencken[/re]: That’s the entire policy. One Pina Colada. It’s virgin, 10 ounces and was frozen when they shipped it. $275 per month, 7 hundo for family coverage. Double rates if you happen to have the pre existing condition of “thirsty” when you sign up. Limit one per calendar year. If you catch a cold, the send someone to repo it. If you don’t have it on hand to give back, they exercise the clause that gives them the right to sell your liver on the black market. If they’ve already taken your liver in a previous claim, well, does the term ‘rape equity’ mean anything to you?

  5. [re=452785]Jim89048[/re]: He should have asked Tancredo how many illegal aliens he hired to build his home theater in his basement. THAT would have pissed him off, too.

  6. Gawddam, Jim, for a second I thought you read all that shit, or more likely ordered your slave, our Young Riley, to do it, but then I saw that you just copied someone else, so I’m feeling happy for the youngster.

    My personal theory is that the OK House Repubs will start passing laws mandating no regulations for anyone who pretends to provide health insurance, in hopes they’ll all come set up shop here. Dumb okies don’t know all we’ll get is their post office box addresses.

    But the Marianas make sense. It’s a douchey place where Tom Delay loves to vaca so he can enjoy watching the children in the sweatshops working for less than minimum wage while they sew “made in the USA” in all the shit they produce. Good times!

  7. It’s funny that this would show up in a bill as me and Riley are already drawing up plans to incorporate a little mom-n-pop health insurance shop in the Northern Marianas. It’s gonna be called Waggaman Health Insurance & Botox Injection Services. We’re gonna be so rich!

  8. Since this worked out so well with credit card companies “moving” to South Dakota and then issuing cards in a basically unregulated environment, why not try it with health insurance?

    Of course, the funds that back up insurance companies (just in case one goes broke – not to say that could or would ever happen, but “what if?”) are operated by each state. State insurance regulators are generally concerned that the companies need to make enough money to never file a claim against the fund.

    SO – if, for example, an insurance company “moves” to the USVI (by having an attorney and a post office box there; in the Bahamas and Caymen Islands there are known as “brass plate banks”)and does a ton of business by charging super low premiums (do you think employers would go for that?) and then has to pay a bunch of claims but doesn’t have the money so it just goes belly up…

    That’s not my idea of really good health insurance.

  9. [re=452782]chascates[/re]: Fuck. You got there before me. Please, no one tell us to get a room. I don’t even know this guy.

    While I have the floor, I’ve decided that, since I’m such a good Christian that I spend every election day working my ass off for what passes as the only liberal (therefore, truly Christian) church in this little town (and fucked up my body so badly I’m like a zombie body but don’t eat flesh) that Jeebus should reward me thusly:

    I should be given a giant new iMac and systematically put every person in Pawnee County over the age of 18 in front of it and make them read “my” wonkette. Then I should be allowed to shoot anyone who doesn’t laugh in a snarky, cruel, sarcastic way.

    To accomplish this, however, I will have to overcome my revulsion at the sight of weapons (I’ve never actually held a gun of any sort-they make me cringe), learn how to shoot one (ick) and then manage to kill. I can’t do that, either.

    Shit. Instead, Jeebus can give me a Democratic Guv in 2010. I deserve at least that much, being a good White Christian lady who will never be able to bring myself to exercise my precious 2nd. Amendment rights.

  10. If the Congressional Republicans want to call all these places “states,” then they can introduce bills to admit them into the Union.

    At this rate they’ll add Somalia as a “state” for insurance shopping purposes.

  11. [re=452785]Jim89048[/re]: One good thing happens and I miss it because I’m watching the toney Newshour, when I’d rather watch Liberals screaming Communist/Socialist/Marxist/Fustian (why not? The teabaggers will start quoting it and make us laugh harder) talking points.

  12. If they put a loophole this big (and obvious) in this bill, just imagine what the sneaky, little ones are like. This is all a distraction!

  13. The Republicans are always looking out for the little guy — the little robber baron, the little corporate executive, the little fraudster, the little war profiteer — they give and give and give, and what do we do? Criticize them for it. I feel a twinge of shame, people — I really do.
    Oh, the CBO says these motherfuckers’ bill is also not as deficit-cutting as the Democrats’ bill either.

  14. [re=452827]Guppy06[/re]: Oh— they are there— lurking in the shadows— waiting— waiting— watching— waiting— dash dash dash.

    [re=452850]Jim Newell[/re]: HEY-YO.

  15. [re=452848]SayItWithWookies[/re]: “Oh, the CBO says these motherfuckers’ bill is also not as deficit-cutting as the Democrats’ bill either.”

    Seriously? Need a link. Are the handouts to insurance executives that gigantic?

  16. The new Republican mottos:

    “Shoulda been born rich, bitch.”

    “Who’s takin’ your bacon?”

    “Pssst. Hey…wanna buy some dirty insurance?”

  17. Actually, not much of a change since most insurance policies are already written in Chamorro. Overall I’m okay with insurance companies setting things up in the Northern Marianas, so long as none of their executives is paid more than 10x the minimum wage for the Northern Marianas.

  18. [re=452862]DustBowlBlues[/re]: Oh, fine — make me cite my sources:

    But maybe, you say, the Republican bill does a really good job cutting costs. According to CBO, the GOP’s alternative will shave $68 billion off the deficit in the next 10 years. The Democrats, CBO says, will slice $104 billion off the deficit.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/11/congressional_budget_office_th.html

    Yeah, the whole thing’s a horrible transparent insult to the intelligence of the American people. Which, hard as that is to conceive, is one thing the GOP is still capable of accomplishing.

  19. [re=452876]SayItWithWookies[/re]: I hate to do this, but *in their defense* it’s a much smaller balance sheet. The Democratic plan spends much more and so has to bring in more revenue to balance it. So they’re not really “alternative” or competing plans at all: one is comprehensive, one is just a couple of small targeted changes. One could actually change things, one is useless.

  20. [re=452879]Jim Newell[/re]: You nailed it, Jim. “Why should we care about 50 million uninsured when there are literally DOLLARS to be saved by leaving the system (basically) as it is?” God Bless the GOP and their fiscal conservatism.

  21. [re=452879]Jim Newell[/re]: Sure, each plan’s goal is to be deficit-neutral — but nothing’s stopping the Republicans from putting more cost-cutting measures in their bill. And most of the Republicans’ projected savings comes from tort reform — and here’s a little tidbit about Boehner’s plan I haven’t seen anywhere yet (it’s on p. 4):

    Over the 2010–2019 period, those changes would
    reduce spending on mandatory programs by about $41 billion and would
    increase revenues by $13 billion as an indirect effect of reducing the costs of
    private health insurance plans (which would result in a shift of some
    workers’ compensation from nontaxable health insurance benefits to taxable
    wages).

    What they’ve instituted is a back-door tax increase on workers by making more of their income taxable. A proud moment for the party of Real America.

  22. [re=452794]user-of-owls[/re]: Fun fact: that song was originally about the lies hobos used to tell pretty young boys to get them to run away with them and be buttsexed. Trufax.

  23. OK, so far, according to my personal scorecard, the Party of Principles is proposing a bill that…Saves less money, Tramples on states’ rights, Encourages companies to relocate to where US immigration laws do not apply, Raises taxes on individuals

    Am I missing anything? Maybe some ACORN funding buried in there?

  24. [re=452926]doloras[/re]: From the Holy Oracle Wikipaedia:

    Originally the song described a child being recruited into hobo life by tales of the “big rock candy mountain”. Such recruitment actually occurred, with hobos enchanting children with tales of adventure called ghost stories by other hobos. In proof of his authorship of the song, McClintock published the original words, the last stanza of which was:


    The punk rolled up his big blue eyes
    And said to the jocker, “Sandy,
    I’ve hiked and hiked and wandered too,
    But I ain’t seen any candy.
    I’ve hiked and hiked till my feet are sore
    And I’ll be damned if I hike any more
    To be buggered sore like a hobo’s whore
    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.”

  25. [re=452782]chascates[/re]: This reminds me that American Samoa wasn’t included in the min wage increase so they wouldn’t have to pay her husband’s factory workers more.

  26. I haven’t read about the Northern Mariana Islands since JackEmUp N. RipEmOff was sent up the river. Wonder how their economy is doing these days?

  27. [re=452885]Suds McKenzie[/re]: How amazing. You’ve come up with the perfect talking point. Are the Uighers going to get free health care on this plan? Are we subsidizing (never were) terrorists? A question for the teabaggers.

  28. Didn’t Nancy fix the Marianas problem way back when, just after Hopey took office, so they get American minimum wage now?

    Question: Is our man giving us a little less hope these days?

  29. [re=453000]Potater[/re]: “And even that would cost more than the Democrat plan.”

    G**dammit, DemcratIC plan. Quit giving the douchey Republics their basic talking point.

  30. [re=453050]President Beeblebrox[/re]: “Basically, the company was taken over by a gang of crooks who robbed it blind.”

    Wow! Just like the Bush government!

  31. The beauty of our system of government is that individuals come and go (into office, to prison, to hell) but some things never change – ie, the Marianas Islands are well represented in Congress.

  32. We planted a flag on the moon, so we could include that, right? Or maybe we could use the Voyager probe to define jurisdiction. It’s all American. Or does someone out there hate America?

  33. The wording of this is bizarre. It says “The term ‘State’ means the 50 States and includes [the six other things].” So taken literally, it’s saying those six territories/possessions/whatevers are now six among the 50 states. For that to be true, they must be kicking out six existing states.

    Let’s see, six “bluest” states: bye-bye, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Hawaii, Vermont and Maryland! Oh, and getting rid of Hawaii means Obama can’t be president no matter how many birth certificates he comes up with.

  34. This just in: Jodie Foster is once again seeking a suitor! However, she is only interested in applicants who……. Meh, never mind.

    Schenck v. United States, also.

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