22 June 2007

Floor action, Jun. 22: SB 1, SB 223

SB 1 would vaguely enable the state to marginally tinker with its delivery of health care to the indigent. It would implement cost-saving technology, put together groups to study health care, and reorganize the charity system to create “medical homes.” It would require the federal government to approve of a pilot program. It passed 101-0.

SB 223 would raise the minimum coverage levels for automobile insurance. Handler Rep. Danny Martiny said it was 23 years since rates were raised and costs for repair and medicine had gone up considerably. In fact, he wanted to remove previous amendments that had lowered them. But Rep. Shirley Bowler objected, saying this would price poorer people out of the insurance and thus car market, and that Martiny’s $17 a month estimated increase was an understatement given that claims would increase and these costs would be passed along.

Rep. Ronnie Johns brought other statistics to show that rate was much higher for some kinds of drivers. He said it would increase the number of uninsured drivers on the road. But Rep. Damon Baldone asked whether raising coverage might lower costs in other areas, such as recouping medical expenses; Johns replied others would go up also, like attorney fees. Rep. Mike Powell said that unless limits are higher, more costs are paid by others to insure others that did not have adequate limits, so somebody pays regardless and it might as well be those who cause accidents. The question finally called on the amendment, which was adopted 72-26.

After a technical amendment, Rep. Nick Lorusso offered an amendment to phase in the adoption of the higher rates. Martiny objected, saying the bill just had been brought back into its original limits and said the problem of lower limits should be dealt with immediately without a lot of hassle that a phase-in would cause. Lorusso said it would buy time to better figure out rates. The amendment failed 27-67.

Shortly thereafter the entire question was called, and the bill passed 77-24.

Hard to believe, but, yes, I care for poor people.
Bowler, not long after musing it was unusual for a suburban conservative Republican to come out defending the right of poor people to own cars and drive them.

We should call Rep. Martiny’s amendment the “Ronnie Johns Pay Raise” amendment.
Johns, an insurance agent, when arguing against higher limits.

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