Maryland is really stepping into stupidity with its foray into addressing the current
politically desirable hot potato health insurance crisis. I’m not sure which is worse, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s plan, or the naked defectiveness of politicians from a plan in the General Assembly. Consider:
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) will call for expanded coverage of the state’s 780,000 uninsured — one in seven residents — in his State of the State address today, aides said, highlighting a proposal that would bring more of the poorest residents into public programs and require private insurers to allow young adults to remain on their parents’ plans until age 25.
What kind of nonsense is that last new regulation, other than an outright admission that politicians love to coddle people into ignoring reality and the consequences of their own choices. At what point will parents be allowed to kick their children off of their policy? If it’s so desirable for insurers to include young adults on their parents’ insurance, wouldn’t they have already offered such policies? Might current burdensome regulations and perverse incentives be the reason why those under 25 “can’t” purchase affordable health insurance? Making those worse will help? At some point, maybe people can leave the care of their parents and go directly to the care of the state. No one ever has to make any tough choices for himself. Even if he wants to make those choices.
General Assembly leaders are offering more ambitious plans that would add a $1 tax on cigarettes to pay for covering tens of thousands of low-income workers and offer subsidies to small businesses that provide coverage. Many workers who can afford insurance but choose not to pay for it would have to buy it or face penalties.
The governor opposes a tobacco tax increase, and even if lawmakers approve it, there is some sentiment to use the revenue to cover other needs. And despite the momentum in the Democrat-controlled legislature, initiatives of this magnitude often take more than a single session to sell.
A $1-a-pack increase in the tobacco tax also is the centerpiece of an effort by the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative to expand health care access through Medicaid and drug treatment. Although other states have approved tobacco tax increases to pay for health care, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) has expressed concern that if the tax acts as a deterrent to smoking, the revenue source could plummet.
If it might not work, why are Maryland’s elected officials so ready to implement it? Because it might work? And even if it works, the outcome might be bad? What? Politicians can’t control themselves, even when they allegedly have good intentions. They will botch the implementation of the noblest of plans. They should not be allowed anywhere near such an important, vital aspect of individual life.