Believe it or not, conservatives have been arguing for health care reform before most people had even heard of Barack Obama, or thought of Hillary Clinton as anything else but the First Lady.
And, along with tort reform, the key plank to their health care reform agenda was allowing the consumer to buy health insurance across state lines.
In fact, in 2010, the Heritage Foundation echoed a Republican argument that had been prevalent by that time for almost two decades:
The objective of intrastate health insurance exchanges would be to create a system of defined contribution for financing health care, level the playing field among a variety of private health insurers, and allow tax-free individual purchase and ownership of health insurance policies. This arrangement would also facilitate portability of health care coverage, allowing those with private coverage to keep that coverage when they change jobs, or even if they become unemployed.
It is an idea that seems to make too much sense.
What better driver for lower prices could there be than allowing the consumer more choices? Isn’t that what our experience with the free market tells us?
Why should someone in the market for health insurance in New Jersey be limited to buying from insurers only from his state when he could buy an equivalent policy from an insurer in Georgia?
Because of the commonsense simplicity of the idea, many believed that it was only due to insurance companies lobbying against it that the idea was prevented from ever coming to fruition.
Fortunately, President Trump has announced that this long-term goal may be on the verge of being realized.
According to Reuters:
President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he likely will sign an order this week that is expected to allow Americans to buy stripped-down health insurance policies, a step some experts say would further undermine the Obamacare law that Trump opposes.
Unable to win passage of legislation to dismantle the 2010 law in a Congress led by his own party, Trump indicated he would take unilateral action. He offered few specifics beyond saying his action would let people cross state lines to obtain “great, competitive healthcare” costing the United States “nothing.”
Like many Republicans before him — as well as most of the Republicans who ran against him for the presidency — Donald Trump made interstate portability a campaign promise.
During a very heated exchange with then-rival Marco Rubio at a GOP presidential debate, Donald Trump explains his support for allowing consumers to “get rid of the lines around the states:”
Interstate portability may not be a magical solution to the problem of rising health care costs. Very few agree with the president’s prediction that with it “your premiums will be down 60 and 70 percent.” Some on the Left argue that it is even a bad idea.
But as healthcare expert Avik Roy argued in a Forbes article on the subject:
Policymakers shouldn’t be ‘dumbfounded’ if interstate insurance doesn’t produce immediate dividends. But if we’re fortunate enough to enact such reforms, and people are sufficiently patient, we should see results.”