LD1333; An Act To Modify Rating Practices for Individual and Small Group Health Plans and To Encourage Value-based Purchasing of Health Care Services, makes several changes to the insurance business in Maine. The most significant of these changes is the ability for the purchase of insurance outside of Maine from places like New Hampshire and Connecticut. This single change could have a lasting positive impact on the business climate in Maine and businesses will look kindly upon this new benefit. Passing the legislation is one hurdle, but selling it to the people of Maine may be the biggest hurdle yet.
With LD1333 almost a foregone conclusion, the Democrats have resorted to the fear tactics that we have come accustom to. Rep. Sharon Treat (D-Hallowell) told the Sun Journal, “From what we do know, this proposal hurts small businesses, rural Mainers, the chronically ill and anyone over 50 who is not yet eligible for Medicare”. This is a telling statement and it proves once again that Democrats in Augusta will stretch every inch of the truth to prevent the transformation of Maine from a nanny state into a business friendly and taxpayer friendly climate. Their reelection depends on keeping Mainers as dependent upon the state as possible. Rep. Treat proves the fear tactics are their defense by failing to add any substance to her comments. She leaves out any examples of how this bill will do any of the things she claims it will. Reason being of course, that none of those things will happen with the changes that LD1333 proposes. I am confident that insurance prices will fall and better coverage will be widespread throughout the state. Just like any other business, when you introduce more competition, prices fall and quality improves.
This legislation is important for the state, but more important is how the Republicans in Augusta and the Governor choose to sell it to Mainers. It is great to pass business friendly legislation, but if the GOP doesn’t get out in front of the media coverage it will be the reason the House and Senate return to Democrats in 2012. The media will not be on the side of the GOP on this and the Democrats will have as many news cycles as they want to help turn the tide in their favor. There is no question that LD1333 will be a lasting legacy in Maine. What is yet to be answered, is whether it will be the legacy that turns Maine around and brings businesses here or the legacy that turns the Maine legislature back over to the Democrats for another 30 years.