October 04, 2008

Bachmann on Health Care

Michele Bachmann's position on health care recently came to my attention when she voted against mental health parity in health insurance. The mental health parity law says that insurance companies may not set lower caps for payment for treatment of mental illness, including addiction, and must treat services for these illnesses the same way services for things like sinus infections and sprained limbs are treated. It's a measure that has the potential to improve the productivity and general health of millions of Americans, as untreated mental illness has a broad impact on the rest of a person's life.

The measure had broad bipartisan support, with Bachmann being only one of 47 Representatives to vote against it. That indicated to me that there was probably more in her health care record worth looking at. I started with her policy statement:

American healthcare is the best in the world, but rising costs make it inaccessible to many. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, between 2000 and 2006, premiums for family coverage increased 87%, making the average annual premium for families more than $12,000.

A big part of the problem has roots in the Tax Code, which favors employer-provided health insurance. My Health Care Freedom of Choice Act would provide full tax deductibility for individual medical expenses, including medical care, dental care, long-term care and insurance premiums.

The Health Care Freedom of Choice Act
What is this bill? It was introduced in the House on January 23, 2007 and referred to the Ways and Means Committee. Aside from its description, it isn't necessarily a bad little bill. It removes the provision of the code that says only expenses over 7.5% of adjusted gross income are deductible. However, it also greatly broadens the description of a dependent for purposes of these deductions, to those disallowed by the Code for other purposes. No further action was ever taken on the bill, which makes it appear that it was an attempt by the 64 Republicans who sponsored it to be able to say, "I did too do something on health care."

As an aside, signing on to a Michele Bachmann-sponsored bill is a great way to state a position without having to worry about being responsible for it later. The only two bills she's sponsored that have passed the House have been symbolic.

The Minnesota Expanded Health Care Practices Act
Bachmann also sponsored a health care bill while she was in the Minnesota legislature. The Minnesota Expanded Health Care Practices Act protects a health care provider's "[r]ight to provide expanded health care." Expanded health care, in this case, is:

[H]ealth care and healing methods, modalities, treatments, procedures, or protocols that have not been generally adopted by a profession, or that are not generally considered to be within the prevailing minimum standards of care of a profession, or that are not standard practices of a profession in a particular community.

In other words, woo. Not only would the bill have created a right for your doctor to practice woo, but it would have limited those who could give evidence on how well the woo is being performed to:

[E]xperts who have specialized knowledge, training, and clinical competence in the practice method or treatment used by the professional being investigated. The majority of the expert's practice must be the same as that of the professional being investigated.

So, if you'd gone to a regulatory board to complain that the crystals and enemas you were treated with did nothing to improve your impotence but cost an awful lot, the only person who could have talked about whether you were treated appropriately would have been someone who also wanted to treat you with crystals and enemas.

This bill also died. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to determine whether Bachmann's conflict of interest played any part in that death. By the way, the Christian counseling business she and her husband own doesn't provide its employees with health care.

More to Come
I wanted to dive further into her voting record and public statements on health care, but this post is already long enough. Next time.

Of course, if that's already quite enough for you, you can always make a donation to her opponent. His statement on health care is somewhat more comprehensive.


Anonymous said...

So, would praying away the gay be a covered treatment under her plan?

Stephanie Zvan said...

Mike, beating the demons out of you would be a covered treatment under her bill. Extended, repeated icy baptisms would be covered. This bill has no limits, and the only person who could set limits is someone who already practices the same "treatment."