Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Good cop, stupid cop.

If there's a bandwagon, I jump on it.

So, Sonny has a plan to provide subsidized health insurance to employees of small businesses. At Tondee's Tavern, they say, "a step in the right direction," and at Georgia Women Vote, they say, "at least he's talking about doing something."

I'm not optimistic.

I know nothing about health care policy, so take this prediction with a big heaping bowl of salt: it will result in less coverage, and fewer covered, at a higher cost to the state. The state will subsidize those small businesses that currently provide health insurance; of the small businesses that don't provide health insurance, the ones with older workers - well aware of their mortality - will join, and the ones with younger ones - invincible, you know - will not. Those older, less healthy workers will be able to choose between minimal plans (for the more healthy) and comprehensive ones (for the less healthy). Overall, seems like a chance for a lot of adverse selection.

But like I said, big heaping bowl of salt. This may work well, or better yet, it may provide an opportunity for the Democratic Party to offer an even better alternative.

From the reporting, however, I'm not optimistic about that, either. It's more "good cop, stupid cop," with our ambitious executives, Sonny and Casey, playing good cop, while our career legislators, namely Earl, play stupid cop:

State House Rules Chairman Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) called the plan an "entitlement" that would increase in cost each year. The House leader said the state should instead take some of its surplus and provide tax incentives to help Georgians buy their own health coverage.

"Instead of making it an entitlement, let's make it an incentive," he said.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the Senate's president, was more supportive.

"It certainly addresses the issue of uninsured Georgians and will incentivize our small business owners to partner with their employees and the state to provide health care coverage," Cagle said. "I commend the governor for taking on such a challenging issue."

Perdue disputed the claim that the program will turn into a state-sponsored entitlement program for small-business employees. Instead, he said, it would make it easier for Georgians to buy private insurance and cost taxpayers less than they pay now to cover the costs of the uninsured who seek care in emergency rooms.

As fun as it is to call Earl Ehrhart stupid cop, I find it difficult to believe that he'd be opposed to a plan that looks like it's been blessed by The Heritage Foundation. I suppose he might have gone that far right, but I also wonder if this isn't a bit of political theater, designed to establish the sides of the debate: conservative and more conservative, with nothing less conservative, let alone liberal, in sight.

And from the article linked, it looks like it's working: not a Democrat mentioned.