I want to write something on Gov. Romney’s health care speech/proposal, but I can’t start until someone can give me a simple answer to this question: How can you simultaneously argue that states should have the ultimate responsibility and right to experiment within their own walls (slide 16) AND that people should be able to buy insurance across state lines (slide 18).
Don’t get me wrong; both are arguments that conservatives make. It’s just that few people make them at the same time. That’s because they run counter to each other.
If you believe in states’ rights, then you believe that states should have the ability to regulate their markets themselves without outside intervention. When Gov. Romney says that the Massachusetts plan was “right” for Massachusetts, and that every state should decide health care reform for itself, that’s one argument. When Gov. Romney says that people should be able to purchase insurance across state lines, he’s arguing that individuals should not be bound by regulations and should be able to do what they want.
But when he argues the latter, he’s making the former impossible. His Massachusetts plan would fail completely if residents of that state could purchase plans from other states, according to other regulations. If New York wants to set community ratings (as should be their right by Gov. Romney’s former argument), then allowing healthy people to buy policies from Texas where no such regulations exist (as should be their right by Gov. Romney’s latter argument), causes New York to fail.
Letting people buy policies across state lines means that states will be regulated by other states – likely the ones with the least restrictions – instead of the federal government. But they won’t be “laboratories” or have real power.
I believe Gov. Romney knows something about health care reform. So I’d appreciate someone asking him to reconcile these two ideas.