Thursday, July 17, 2008

From the Union Leader

An editorial in this morning's Union Leader condemns a new law sponsored by Bob Clegg that will increase health insurance mandates, limit competition, and increase health insurance costs.

GOV. JOHN LYNCH knows he should have vetoed Sen. Bob Clegg's bariatric surgery bill. He understands that health insurance mandates raise the cost of health insurance. That's why he has said he opposes them. And yet he let Clegg's mandate bill become law anyway.

Granite Staters should not be surprised that Lynch ducked yet another tough issue. That's how he has maintained such high approval ratings. It's pretty easy to be popular when you never make a decision that could offend others.

However, Granite Staters should be offended by this one. Clegg's bill requires that any health insurer doing business in New Hampshire cover weight-loss surgery, which can cost $10,000 or more. Clegg claims that the surgery saves insurers money in the long run. Maybe that's so, but insurers pay people big bucks to figure those things out, and they have concluded otherwise.

And besides, that isn't the issue. The issue is whether the state should pass laws forcing insurers to offer whatever services legislators -- for political reasons -- would prefer they offer. Lynch knows that the answer is no. He has acknowledged that mandates mean insurers cannot offer people low-cost plans that fit their individual needs. Mandates compel everyone to buy insurance that covers, say, weight loss surgery, even if they know they will never need that service.

He knew he should have vetoed this bill. But he didn't. He let it become law without his signature. That was a copout. The people should be upset that the governor knowingly let a bad bill that will raise their health insurance rates become law. They should be doubly upset that he did it the cowardly way, hoping to dodge responsibility for it.

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