The Senate Fiscal Agency's analysis of the MESSA busting bill SB 0418, concludes that the bill will cause additional administrative and informational technology costs to the state, and will not "force or guarantee" any savings to school districts. However, it "could make it easier for a self-funded, pooled benefit arrangement to occur."
Could make it easier. Not would make it easier.
The SFA notes that State-sponsored catastrophic stop loss (CSL) coverage is not included in SB 418, so the agency cannot predict whether school districts would be willing and able to pool and self-fund.
These bills do nothing but force MESSA to give up information on claims. So why would we pass bills that save no money, and actually cost the state more?
Because, in this humble outsider's opinion, this is just the first step. The next 'reform' in the next budget battle (which starts in 3 months?) will be to use the claims information made public by this act, to force MESSA prices (revenues) down, or to create pools designed to undercut MESSA, thus forcing districts to buy into a non-MESSA pool.
Baby steps toward the permanent Republican majority.
Sure, go ahead and laugh at my theory, but this is how the right wing operates. They start at the very bottom and quietly build an entire architecture of law that is designed to guarantee their own political dominance. Usually this law looks like something it's not. And they don't care if it takes decades.
If you recall, this MESSA busting bill is one of Bishop's budget demands. Why would he demand this, if it did nothing but cost the state more?
You can read the full SFA analysis here.
update: Michigan Liberal has more on this here.
Forcing MESSA to give up information on claims is not only a violation of patient confidentiality in my opinion, it also allows insurance companies to form pools that pick and choose healthier patients, thus undercutting MESSA.
It makes me wonder if state Republicans aren't working for the insurance industry and trying to throw some work their way. This might save taxpayers money in the short-term, but after securing contracts based on this cherry picked info, I'm sure the rates will rise at taxpayer expense. Look what happened when Medicare Advantage plans were rolled out. Payments to those private plans ended up costing taxpayers 12% more than they paid under traditional Medicare. A good deal for the insurers and Republicans who get their donations, but not for taxpayers.
Anyway, I meant to add something about MESSA and the Republicans. The 'Pubs want to turn this into a wedge issue – "how dare those darn teachers have such good health insurance at taxpayers expense." Well, I say good for them, and I think taxpayers need to turn it around and say, "yep, they do, and I want equally good insurance too."
The only thing we accomplish by allowing the Republicans to whittle away at our wages and benefits is a reduced standard of living, except for the shareholders, corporations and top 10% of Americans.
~Kathy, September 29, 2007