Tag: jerry brown

Rauner Veto Preserves Consumer Protections in Short-Term Plans, Improves ObamaCare’s Risk Pools

Hours ago, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) vetoed legislation that would have subjected enrollees in short-term health insurance plans to higher deductibles, higher administrative costs, higher premiums, and lost coverage. The vetoed bill would have blocked the consumer protections made available in that market by a final rule issued earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and would have (further) jeopardized ObamaCare’s risk pools by forcing even more sick patients into those pools.

Short-term plans are exempt from federal health insurance regulations, and as a result offer broader access to providers at a cost that is often 70 percent less than ObamaCare plans.

Rather than allow open competition between those two ways of providing health-insurance protection, the Obama administration sabatoged short-term plans. It forced short-term plan deductibles to reset after three months, and forced consumers in those plans to reenroll every three months, changes that increased administrative costs in that market.

The Obama administration further subjected short-term plan enrollees to medical underwriting after they fell ill – which meant higher premiums and cancelled coverage for the sick. Prior to the Obama rule, a consumer who purchased a short-term plan in January and developed cancer in February would have coverage until the end of December, at which point she could enroll in an ObamaCare plan. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners complained that the Obama rule required that her coverage expire at the end of March – effectively cancelling her coverage and leaving her with no coverage for up to nine months. The Obama administration stripped consumer protections from this market by expanding medical underwriting after enrollees get sick – something Congress has consistently tried to reduce.

Earlier this month, HHS restored and expanded the consumer protections the Obama administration gutted. It allowed short-term plans to cover enrollees for up to 12 months, and allowed insurers to extend short-term plans for up to an additional 24 months, for a total of up to 36 months. These changes allow short-term plans to offer deductibles tallied on an annual basis, rather than deductibles that reset every three months. They spare enrollees and insurers the expense of re-enrolling every three months. Most important, they allow short-term plans to protect enrollees who get sick from medical underwriting at least until they again become eligible to enroll in an ObamaCare plan the following January.

Indeed, HHS clarified that because the agency has no authority to regulate standalone “renewal guarantees” that allow short-term plan enrollees who fall ill to continue paying healthy-person premiums, “it may be possible for a consumer to maintain coverage under short-term, limited-duration insurance policies for extended periods of time” by “stringing together coverage under separate policies offered by the same or different issuers, for total coverage periods that would exceed 36 months.” As HHS Secretary Alex Azar explains, this helps ObamaCare:

Our decision to allow renewability and separate premium protections could also allow consumers to hold on to their short-term coverage if they get sick, rather than going to the exchanges, which improves the exchange risk pools.

I made that very argument in my comments on the proposed rule.

Illinois law automatically adopts whatever rules and definitions the federal government creates for short-term plans. If Illinois legislators had just done nothing, millions of Illinois residents automatically would have had a health insurance option that is more affordable and provides better coverage than ObamaCare.

But this is Illinois.

In their infinite wisdom, Illinois legislators passed legislation that once again would have exposed short-term plan enrollees higher deductibles, higher administrative costs, higher premiums, and cancelled coverage. The bill would have:

  • Required that initial contract terms for short-term plans last no longer than six months. It further provided that such plans could be extended for no more than six additional months.
  • Mandated that consumers who wish to keep purchasing consecutive short-term plans go uninsured for 60 days. Some consumers would inevitably develop expensive conditions during that period, and therefore be left with no coverage until the next ObamaCare open enrollment period. 
  • Prohibited renewal guarantees. The legislation specifically cut off this option. As a result, it would have dumped every single short-term plan enrollee with an expensive illness into the Exchanges. Ironically, Illinois legislators who thought they were bolstering ObamaCare actually passed a bill that would have sabotaged it.

Thankfully, Gov. Rauner stopped this ignorant, ridiculous effort to deny consumer protections to short-term plan enrollees. All eyes now turn to California, where Gov. Jerry Brown (D) must sign or veto legislation that would deny medical care to those who miss ObamaCare’s open enrollment period – by banning short-term plans altogether.

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California Knows How to Party… $16 Billlion Too Lavishly

Californians may be forgiven for expectorating coffee over their morning newspapers today, as they learn that their state deficit is not $9 billion, as Governor Brown’s administration had predicted, but rather $16 billion. Oops.

Further increasing the breakfast table choking hazard is the Governor’s “solution”: raise taxes. Gov. Brown is pushing a fall ballot initiative that would raise both sales and income taxes. He argues that this is preferable to cutting spending on things like public schooling on the grounds that schools have already been slashed to the bone. But have they? Actually, no. California’s per pupil spending has nearly doubled over the past forty odd years, in real inflation-adjusted dollars, and remains near its all-time high.

What did California get for that massive spending increase? Not a great deal if the SAT performance of its college-bound high school students is any guide. And, as I pointed out in this op-ed, it’s a pretty reasonable guide.

But while raising taxes has consistently failed to improve educational performance, cutting them actually works—via tax-credit school choice programs that give families an easier choice between public and private schools. Florida’s education tax credit program, for instance, has been shown to improve the achievement of students who stay in public schools, to improve the achievement of students who accept scholarships and attend private schools, and to save taxpayers millions of dollars a year. If expanded on a mass scale in a large state like California, it would save billions of dollars a year.

So what’ll it be, Californians? Fiscal and education policy sobriety, or the Governor’s hair-of-the-dog continued big government partying?

Slasher Stories

In Hollywood, there is a genre called “slasher movies.” In the media, there is a genre of “slasher stories” on state government budgets. A piece in the WaPo today is classic:

Democratic and Republican governors alike are sounding similar themes, as they slash once sacrosanct programs…In California, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has proposed closing a $25 billion budget gap by…slashing funding for higher education…Sen. Dean A. Rhoads, the chamber’s senior Republican, said Nevada should be raising taxes as well as slashing programs.

Wow, it sounds brutal doesn’t it? For a different perspective on state budgets, see my testimony last week to the Senate Budget Committee.

Jerry Brown’s Charter Schools ‘Among the Top’?

When Jerry Brown touts his record on education on his campaign website, he starts by citing the two charter schools he founded, calling them “among the top-performing schools in Oakland.” They aren’t – not when measured by academic achievement, at any rate.

The chart below shows the percentage of students in Brown’s two charter schools who score at or above the “proficient” level on the California Standards Tests (averaged across all available grades and subjects). The results are broken out a few different ways to show that they are not particularly sensitive to demographics.

Far from being “among the top,” Jerry Brown’s schools are marginally lower-scoring than the abysmal Oakland Public Schools, and fantastically far below the city’s real top performers: the American Indian Public Charter Schools network (3 schools) and the Oakland Charter Academies (2 schools).

Another of Mr. Brown’s campaign website claims is more credible: “I have gained first-hand experience in how difficult it is to enable all students to be ready for college and careers.” Perhaps if Mr. Brown had taken the time to learn from and emulate the two charter school networks that are already achieving that goal in his own backyard, Californians would have greater confidence in his education policy acumen.

The Nation’s Worst State Attorneys General

Our friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute have released a new report on the worst state attorneys general in the country.  Despite Eliot Spitzer no longer being eligible for consideration, six attorneys general comprise the worst-in-the-nation list:

1. Jerry Brown, California
2. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
3. Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma
4. Patrick Lynch, Rhode Island
5. Darrell McGraw, West Virginia
6. William Sorrell, Vermont

The report, authored by Hans Bader (who will be contributing an article to this year’s Cato Supreme Court Review), uses several criteria for determining who made the list of shame: ethical breaches and selective applications of the law; fabricating law; usurping legislative powers; and predatory practices (such as seeking to regulate out-of-state businesses that broke no state law).   

CEI’s press release explains the pick for number one baddie:

California’s Jerry Brown topped the list for misdeeds like refusing to defend certain state laws he disliked.  One example was Proposition 8, a lawfully-adopted amendment prohibiting gay marriage — a law upheld by the state Supreme Court.  “Personally, I opposed Prop 8,” said Bader, “but it’s clear, by definition, that a provision of the state constitution cannot violate that very constitution; and it’s the duty of the attorney general to defend it.”

Hans explains his reasoning further in this op-ed.  Get the full report here.