editor's note. The Oklahoman by publishing another hit piece editorial about Nick's Law, does show that they are concerned about the momentum of our legislation. Please leave comments on the blog and click the link to leave comments on the newsok.com website.
The Oklahoman Editorial
Published: August 9, 2009
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If mandating “extras” in health care coverage doesn't affect premium costs much, as some claim, then why are “extras” cut out when times are tough?
The answer, of course, is that mandates do cause premium inflation and cuts must be made during economic downturns. That's exactly what a number of state governments are doing now.
Stateline.org reports that 14 states actually increased taxpayer-funded coverage for children using federal funds that may or may not continue. If those funds are cut off, the services will be cut as well.
Other states are slashing health care benefits to help balance their budgets. A Stateline roundup notes that New York has eliminated free cancer screenings for the uninsured and underinsured. Hawaii cut $3 million from a program that combats child abuse in at-risk families and California may eliminate poison control programs.
Few would argue that cancer screening, child abuse prevention and poison control are luxuries. But they are extras. When states mandate coverage for, say, autism behavioral treatments, they turn an extra into an entitlement. Problems arise when too many extras join the basics. One of the arguments against the autism mandate in Oklahoma is the cost it would add to insuring state employees, whose coverage is mostly paid by taxpayers.
Turning extras into entitlements is a recipe for a fiscal meltdown. Mandates have their place in society — preventative treatments, for example, may lower costs in the long run — but taxpayers should be wary when a mandate is imposed upon most citizens.