• Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

    You’re going to hear a lot in the news today about Missouri and Proposition C.  Here’s St. Loius Today:

    Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a federal mandate to purchase health insurance, rebuking President Barack Obama’s administration and giving Republicans their first political victory in a national campaign to overturn the controversial health care law passed by Congress in March.

    “The citizens of the Show-Me State don’t want Washington involved in their health care decisions,” said Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, one of the sponsors of the legislation that put Proposition C on the August ballot. She credited a grass-roots campaign involving Tea Party and patriot groups with building support for the anti-Washington proposition.

    See that second paragraph right there?  That’s why I hate politics.  The ballot did not ask people “Do you want Washington involved in your health care decisions”?  It didn’t even ask “Do you approve of the recently passed PPACA?”

    It asked them if they wanted the mandate.  Here it is exactly:

    Official Ballot Title:

    Shall the Missouri Statutes be amended to:
    • Deny the government authority to penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance or infringe upon the right to offer or accept direct payment for lawful healthcare services?
    • Modify laws regarding the liquidation of certain domestic insurance companies?
    It is estimated this proposal will have no immediate costs or savings to state or local governmental entities. However, because of the uncertain interaction of the proposal with implementation of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, future costs to state governmental entities are unknown.

    Fair Ballot Language:
    A “yes” vote will amend Missouri law to deny the government authority to penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance or infringe upon the right to offer or accept direct payment for lawful healthcare services. The amendment will also modify laws regarding the liquidation of certain domestic insurance companies.

    A “no” vote will not change the current Missouri law regarding private health insurance, lawful healthcare services, and the liquidation of certain domestic insurance companies.

    If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.

    This asked people if they wanted Missouri law to say they can’t be penalized for not buying insurance.  That’s all.  Nothing about the exchanges, the subsidies, the new regulations, the donut hole, changes to copays, cuts to Medicare, payments to ACOs, the excise tax, no longer being denied insurance for pre-existing conditions, no more lifetime caps, AND SO ON.

    I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of whether this electorate can be generalized to the population of the US or whether the people of Missouri understand the PPACA.  It’s irrelevant.  This ballot initiative took the single most unpopular part of the bill and asked people if they wanted to get rid of it.  I’m shocked more people didn’t vote yes.  I consider this as meaningless as if we asked people if they liked getting a check because of the closing of the donut hole and then declared that there was overwhelming support for the bill.

    And that’s the least of it.  All this bill would do is eliminate the mandate, which would pave the way for free riders and an increased cost to those in the system.   If you want community ratings, you have to have a mandate.  If you have a mandate, you have to have subsidies.  There really are only so many ways to say it.

    Look, if the American people truly want to repeal the PPACA, then we all know how that gets done.  Elect enough members of Congress to pass a bill doing so, and a President to sign it.  This is a republic, and if that happens and the PPACA is repealed, then so be it.

    But these empty measures and attacks only against the mandate are the same political theater we’ve been watching all along.  If they succeed, all they accomplish is to destroy what little chance the law has of containing costs and/or controlling the deficit.

    It’s fiscally irresponsible.  It’s dishonest.  But it’s politics as usual.

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