What’s “good” for schools not good enough for insurers

Remember when Gov. Rick Perry a few years ago issued an executive order purporting to require school districts to spend 65 percent of their budgets on classroom instruction? The order, of dubious constitutional validity, was issued to give Perry cover for underfunding the public schools while perpetuating the rightwing myth that schools were awash in wasteful administrative spending.

Education groups pushed back, and the state education commissioner’s eventual response to the order was to draft an ambiguous, virtually meaningless rule.

Why the history lesson? Well, the federal government has issued a rule requiring insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of their premium revenue from individual health care policies on (what else?) medical care or customer refunds. This is the part of the new health care law, and it certainly could help a lot of consumers, maybe even some school employees, who purchase health insurance individually, rather than through group policies. It is designed to limit how much insurance companies can spend their customer dollars on administrative costs and profits.

Now, guess what Gov. Perry thinks about this rule? If you are guessing that he opposes it, you would be correct, even though most insurance companies spend a whole lot more of your money on administrative expenses and perks than school districts do. The governor’s handpicked insurance commissioner is asking for a phasein waiver from the federal requirement, which, if granted, would cost about 745,000 Texans a total of $260 million in lost insurance rebates over three years. That’s how many Texans buy insurance in the individual market, according to the story linked below, rather than through group policies.

Anyone detect a bit of inconsistency on the part of our governor? Well, he is running a consistently awful presidential campaign. Give him credit for that, anyway.



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