Constitution Club

The solution to Obamacare is in our hands--already in action. We just have to make it fully ours, and our State legislature is currently--and perhaps unwittingly--creating legislation to do exactly that.

On November 2nd we attended a meeting in Columbia with Jesse Graston, Chair of the SC John Birch Society; former SC Senator Mike Rose; John Steinberger, Chair of Charleston GOP; Dr. Mike Vasovski, Tom Kendall, and George and Karen Ruff. Two SC Congressmen who had intended to be there called with conflicts.

Senator Rose suggested, as one of the first steps to reform, the introduction of Bill S 1028 which says that employers, individuals and non-employer organizations will be allowed to contract directly with health care providers for services and that such contracts are not insurance. This approach eliminates the need for having approval from the department of insurance prior to entering into such an agreement.

Another important step in creating an alternative to Obamacare is to allow citizens to purchase insurance across state lines.

Both of these steps could be important pieces in the answer to Obamacare that is already in place and enrolling people every day--the South Carolina Health Care Co-op.

Under Obamacare, if a state did not want to set up an exchange, they had the option of creating a coop, and federal funds were available as a loan for that purpose. Although the funds were reduced with the fiscal cliff threat, 23 states, South Carolina being one of them, have set up State cooperative groups. At least two of these states already had coops prior to Obamacare. Cooperative organizations have been around for a long time and work very well.

No one in South Carolina should bother trying to maneuver their way through the healthcare.gov website, a site which doesn't work more often than it does and which has such massive security risks that experts have already predicted major problems with identity theft across the country as a result of having to put personal information on the site. Instead, go to the South Carolina Health Cooperative and see what kind of premium you can get. You can get a quote without giving private information, and you will probably find out that it is less than what you would pay on the federal website.

I called the South Carolina Coop and spoke to an individual about the plan. Because it is included as an option in the new law, the Coop is completely legal, is already approved by our commissioner of insurance, and already has a growing list of providers as well as new members.

The advantage of a cooperative, something those from rural areas who already participate in farm coops, electricity coops, and others know, is that the organization belongs to the members. If it collects enough premiums to make a profit, that money goes back to the members in the form of refunds, new benefits, or reduced premiums.

The South Carolina Health Cooperative, because it was formed under the AFA regulations, must accept people with pre-existing conditions. Also, if you qualify for a subsidy under the AFA, you will receive that subsidy for the coop premiums as well.

The individuals at the November 2 meeting did not discuss the possibilities of the advantage of coops to any great extent, although it was brought up. Senator Rose and Jesse Graston were reluctant to talk about the SC Coop because they don't want something that is tied to the AFA. They failed to see that other than obeying certain requirements of the law, it isn't tied to Obamacare. It was established with federal loans which will be paid back.One of the two doctors present pointed out that a Mennonite group in South Carolina has a coop for its own members, and also, the Christian cost-sharing organization knows as Medi-share uses funds--called "shares" rather than "premiums"--to pay for the costs of the members' medical needs.  These organizations are also legal under Obamacare, although they receive no funds from the government. The Senate version of Obamacare provided an exemption for any religious organizations that wanted to provide for their own members. Pelosi was in such a hurry to get it passed that the House never knew that clause was in the bill.

This brings us to an obvious conclusion which could play out in a couple different ways, but still provides us with a very workable alternative to Obamacare.

1) First, since it is already working, no one in South Carolina or any other state that has a coop should even get close to Obamacare. We have a legal alternative.

2) The State, at least once the loans are repaid, should be able to take complete control of their own coop as something separate and apart from the AFA.

3). It is a part of the US Constitution that States can form compacts among themselves. Senator Rose actually pointed this out. There would thus be no reason that the states with coops could not work together and share the resources of a large multi-state coop, thereby lowering the costs for all members.

4.) If people want a plan that does not participate in federal loans to get started, they can remember that coops are legal, and if worded correctly, are not considered insurance. Thus they do not have to be approved by the commissioner. Across the South we have three major religious organizations--the Southern Baptist, the Lutheran, and the Methodist, with the Baptist being the largest. Those three groups could work together to create a new coop for all members of all three groups, and could choose to admit whoever they wished. They could use an insurance company--like BC/BS to handle claims, similar to the way some of our self-insured companies--such as Michelin--already do.

Items 3 and 4 will take time but are by no means undo-able. In the meantime, the SC Health Coop is already up and running. The best way for Americans to fight Obamacare isn't by storming Washington, driving trucks around the loop, or signing endless petitions which are endlessly ignored. The best attack is no attack. Simply, do not sign up for Obamacare. Many people are scared to take this approach, not so much for fear of "breaking the law," but for fear that something will happen to their health and they will be caught without insurance. As an insurance agent myself, I listen to this fear every day. The answer is simple. Avoid Obamacare by using the state provided resource. Then work with your legislators to take the next step and help your state become completely independent from the AFA.

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