Rep. John Shadegg (R., Ariz.) has long been a booster of interstate health-insurance markets. While watching today’s health-care summit, his ears perked up when he heard President Obama praise “the idea of purchasing insurance across state lines.” Does the president really mean it?
Probably no, Shadegg says, but it is a quote, and idea, worth taking seriously. “I want to be fair,” he says. “If the president does want to do it substantively, then yes, his words today are a great sign, but if it’s just rhetoric, then it’s nothing new.”
Just saying you support the general idea of buying insurance across state lines isn’t enough, Shadegg adds. “What the president says is that his current bill embraces the interstate sale of health insurance — and that, in every sense except the most technical, is not true. What’s in the current bill is a provision that says, for example, if the state of Arizona and the state of New York enter into a compact for policies, then that would be allowed. Yet that’s not anything new — it’s already a current law.”
Instead of backing limited state-insurance compacts, Shadegg says the president “should accept the fact that the interstate sale of health insurance would enhance competition in all 50 states, and bring down costs. Not pushing for a 50-state market is empty rhetoric.”