Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed two bills that he touts as reforms to “provide affordable and quality health care insurance.” In reality, Senate Bill 900 and Assembly Bill 1602 create a new bureaucracy — outside the normal controls of even the governor and state Legislature — to dictate which insurance companies may sell to California consumers and small businesses, what prices they must charge and what coverage they must provide.
A health care exchange that truly helped consumers by providing a clearinghouse of all insurers would permit buyers to compare and evaluate programs and prices, then choose what they desire. Such an unfettered market would be welcome. But this government-run exchange will operate under the sweeping federal makeover of the health care industry. This exchange will further restrict and regulate what can be sold, rather than allow the market to respond to supply and demand.
Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute, a free-market think tank in San Francisco, says that the state-run exchange essentially will act as the administrative arm of the federal government, which will dictate how to operate under the federal health plan’s thousands of pages of new regulations, even further removing health care choices from local consumers.