Thursday, July 27, 2006

Spotty thought Katie liked authoritarianism

Katie's column today is all about mandates in health care. Well okay, it's really about bashing Amy Klobuchar, but never mind. On the other hand, mind. Katie is so concerned about the message in Klobuchar's latest ad about pushing for mandated 48 hour hospital coverage after childbirth. The column starts this way:
Amy Klobuchar's U.S. Senate campaign has just launched a new TV ad. In it, she laments that when her daughter was born, her health care provider had the nerve to make her leave the hospital after 24 hours, although the baby was sick and had to stay longer.
The Katie tells us that she knows whereof she speaks:
Her story hit home with me. I, too, benefited from a 48-hour hospital stay after one of my [4] children was born. I won't deny that I was pleased that my health insurance covered it.
But Katie can see how a rule like that if applied to other people would drive up Katie's heath insurance premiums:
But there's a catch. While candidate Klobuchar trumpets her success in creating a health care mandate, she also frequently decries the high cost of health care in Minnesota. Could success on the mandate front compound the cost problem?

The fact is, the cost of all these mandates adds up. In recent decades we've created a standardized roster of benefits -- some quite expensive -- that everyone covered by the mandates must buy, regardless of whether they need them or want to pay for them. A sizable number of people are being priced out of the health care market.

Many factors affect the cost of health insurance, but mandates are one cost-driver.

Merrill Mathews, director of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, describes the problem this way: "Coverage with lots of mandates is like a Cadillac with options," he says. "It's great if you want it and can afford it. But if you can't, you have to walk."

State Sen. Brian LeClair, a member of the Senate Health and Human Services Budget Committee, builds on the automobile analogy. "We should mandate seat belts. But should we mandate leather upholstery and four-wheel drive? When it comes to health care, many people would find that a standard Buick works for them. What we need in this state is health insurance flexibility and choice."
A two-day stay in a hospital after having a baby is like leather seats in a car? If Spot had covered up the author of that leather seats analogy, boys and girls, would you have thought it spoken by a woman?

And who do you suppose the members of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance are? Spot bets it doesn't include your Gramma.

The issue is not just about giving patients more health care benefits. It is about whether attending physicians or health insurance companies decide what care is needed. Big difference.

And Katie, if you hate mandates so much, when are you going to start your series of columns railing against No Child Left Behind?

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