Well, four hours later, it looks like this hearing is winding down. After the bill sponsor and a school administrator testified in favor of the bill, every single person, for four hours, testified in opposition. I think the House Education Committee received a fairly strong message today, and I was happy to add my voice. Thanks to everyone who stayed through a long hearing to speak, and to the members of the Committee, who listened to us.
By the way, with many home school parents brining their children this morning, I'd say that more students learned more about the legislative process this morning at the State House than in the rest of our schools this morning.
I was pleased to take the Taxpayer Protection Pledge this morning, alongside Ed Naile from the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers, which asks candidates to take the state pledge.
I also had the opportunity to testify in opposition to SB 312-FN, which would mandate insurance coverage for bariatric surgery and obesity treatments:
Members of the House Commerce Committee,
Senate Bill 312 is compassionate. It is well-meaning. It is a tremendously bad idea.
We can not regulate our way to lower health care costs, at least not without significantly decreasing health care delivery. We can not mandate our way to lower health care costs. Trying to do so will result in reduced choice and higher insurance rates. New Hampshire has tried this approach before and failed.
Health care costs are rising because we are using both more health care overall, and more advanced health care techniques. Diagnostic health care costs are rising at double the rate of overall costs. Advanced imaging techniques such as MRI’s, CT scans, and nuclear imaging were unheard of a generation ago, and exotic a decade ago. They are now routine. They are also, often, unnecessary. Because our current health care system has decoupled health care decisions from health care payments, we get more of these expensive tests than if doctors and patients bore the costs of ordering them.
Supporters of this bill argue that bariatric surgery and preventative treatments save money by preventing chronic health problems. Two of the three insurance companies left in our state seem to agree, as they cover such treatments. One doesn’t. And if the supporters of this bill are correct, that company is losing money by limiting its coverage. Such decisions should be left to the marketplace.
Similarly, consumers should have greater choice in their health insurance coverage, rather than being stuck with the health insurance provider chosen by their employer. Consumers should also have the choice to pay more of their routine and anticipated health care expenses out of pocket, rather than sending every bill for every dollar of health care they consume to their insurance company. A basic plan could cover catastrophic care and prescription drugs, and charge premiums affordable to working families.
I’m neither a doctor nor an insurance specialist. I do not claim any expertise on the health care decisions you and your doctor should make. Please do not presume to make such decisions for me, or the other 1.3 million people in New Hampshire. Please reject SB 312-FN, and work to increase choice and competition in New Hampshire’s health insurance marketplace.
I also hope to testify in person against SB 337, the anti-home schooling bill under consideration by the House Education Committee. I had a chance to submit written testimony against the bill, but since so many people showed up in opposition, the Committee extended the hearing until today. There are close to 400 people in Representatives Hall right now, largely in opposition to this bill.