During the summer and fall of 2010, I traveled across Minnesota – and other states – to deliver a message to professional health insurance agents: Get involved in this election, because the next legislature will decide what kind of health insurance exchange you will have.
A funny thing happened on the way to the election. Minnesotans sent conservative Republicans to the state capital, and created a GOP majority. Not surprising, most of the new legislators are committed conservatives – and they refuse to create health insurance Exchange.
Without the votes of the freshmen legislators, the ones for whom many of us campaigned so vigorously, the Exchange went nowhere. It could resurface in a special session, or next year. But there is no indication the freshmen legislators would change their vote.
We elected principled conservatives and they actually voted that way (or in this case, withheld their vote). Elections have consequences, even when they go our way.
Consider the alternative. If we had not elected conservatives, Gov. Dayton would have signed an Exchange bill early in the session. We know what it would look like. These are some of the features of a bill passed by a liberal legislature and a liberal governor (who is on record supporting single payer):
1. All health insurance sold in Minnesota would go through the Exchange.
- Health insurance agents would have no role in the Exchange.
- Health insurance agents would either go out of business or sell different lines of insurance.
I am not making this up. I have seen the bill offered by Minnesota liberals. If you believe in a market-based health insurance system, and especially, if you believe in the health insurance agent system, you will not like what liberal legislators and a liberal governor give you.
Last summer, I risked my health and safety, driving and flying thousands of mile, to ensure the new legislatures across the country would protect a private market health insurance system. I lectured insurance agents, and tried to motivate them to engage in the process to avoid a liberal legislature and liberal governor. We won, but our win resulted in the unexpected consequence that legislators would actually do what they said they would do.
The conservative governor candidate lost by several thousand votes – a tiny fraction of the total. If he had won, everything would have been different except one thing (and about this I speculate): With Tom Emmer as governor, and a conservative GOP legislature, there would be no Exchange bill passed in Minnesota.
So if you believe that your state needs an Exchange, don’t elect principled conservative legislators because, well, they will do what they promised to do: They will oppose “ObamaCare” on every level.
This leaves you with the very risky strategy of electing a moderate or liberal legislator and governor that you will work like crazy to influence, hoping to secure a market-friendly Exchange. After that, if successful, you will have committed yourself to electing the same kind of folks for the next decade, and then work to maintain your influence.
Conclusion: Elections have consequences. If you do not want to fight the Exchange, or fight “ObamaCare,” then do not elect conservatives. But, the trade-off is twofold: 1) You will work your fanny off for the rest of your carreer to influence legislators in order to protect your preferences, and 2) You will be more highly taxed, and have a more activist government than you might otherwise prefer.
I made up my mind decades ago: Three first principles - Life, Liberty, and the right to private property (pursuit of happiness).