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Port: Let states take over health reform from Feds

By Staff | Jul 7, 2017

During a recent appearance on CNBC, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp launched a partisan attack on health policy reform proposed by her Republican colleagues.

She argued that the proposal is even worse than a House bill passed earlier this year.

“You have to look at it from a mile high and they’re trying to tell you we’re going to keep coverage the same, no one’s going to get hurt, and we’re going to take billions of dollars out of health care,” she said.

“Once it’s parsed and people have a chance to look at it, it is only going to get more difficult,” she added.

This political reaction from the senator shows the futility of fixing health care and insurance policy from the federal level. When Democrats were busy jamming Obamacare through Congress, the Republicans were crowing about death panels. Now that Republicans are in the driver’s seat it’s the Democrats who are blowing hot air about supposed body counts from the policy changes.

All demonstrating that these are unserious people who ought not be in charge of such a serious area of policy.

I recently had North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread on my radio program.

“Turn this back over to the states,” he told me of his preferred avenue for reform. “Allow us to manage our marketplace.”

“Everything that comes out of (Washington) D.C. seems to have some strings attached” controlling state policy, he continued.

I asked him about Senator Heitkamp’s comments. “It’s a little disingenuous to rail on this when the cliff’s crumbling underneath us,” he said, noting that in a growing number of counties around the country there is only one insurance policy available for the individual market.

The point being that the status quo is untenable. Partisan gamesmanship like Heitkamp’s is unhelpful to solving a real problem.

The best solution the federal government can give us, though, is probably no solution at all.

They need to turn health insurance and health care policy over to the states.

“Let us regulate it like we do all other insurances,” Godfread said.

That makes a lot of sense.

Getting that sort of a sea change in attitude through the thick skulls in Congress would require federal leaders like Heitkamp to express a degree of humility they’re probably not capable of.

The problem with the debate over health care and health insurance policy is hubris. Our federal leaders can’t admit this complex policy question has no one-size-fits-all federal solution that works in all parts of the country.

We aren’t going to get good reform out of Congress. What we’re going to get is bad policy crafted to assuage the ebbs and flows of petty, petulant national politics.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a Republican plan or a Democratic plan.

The only good plan would be for the feds to do less.

Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Follow him on Twitter at @RobPort

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