Friday, March 11, 2011

H2 Veto Override Still Alive in NC

The N.C. General Assembly is definitely more interesting this session than average! The day after House Republicans failed to override Gov. Perdue's veto of H2--which would declare that the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) didn't apply in N.C. and which directed the Attorney General to bring or join a lawsuit in opposition to the law--they moved to reconsider this vote at a later date. The three-fifths needed to override the veto remains (interesting audio interview with Speaker Tillis at bottom of link), but it is three-fifths of those members present, so now that the bill has been revived they could vote to override the veto any time some Democrats don't show up for a session. Or someone could change their vote.

So, going forward Speaker Tillis says that he will use a similar procedure for any bill vetoed by Gov. Perdue. This procedure essentially allows a vetoed bill to be open for being overridden for the entire legislative session, while the Governor only has 10 days to decide whether to veto the bill or not. I am sure a great deal of the writing today will be about the politics of all this. That is a dirty trick; no its not, you used to use dirty tricks when you ran things. Repeat (ad nauseum).

Sounds like it is within the longstanding rules of the House, so fine.

I am more interested in this as a health policy issue. It shows that the N.C. House and Senate Republicans are really opposed to the Affordable Care Act. And by their actions today, they have made the potential to override the Governor's veto of H2 an issue for every legislative day this session until and unless they successfully override the veto. And if they do override it, there will then be a showdown with the N.C. Attorney General who has said the legislature cannot make him join or bring a lawsuit against the ACA. As my granddaddy would say, 'sure is a whole lot of fuss.'

I realize I have been a broken record in asking what the N.C. Republicans are for in the realm of health policy. Yet, they too have been a broken record, spending quite a lot of energy in making clear their opposition to the ACA, but not making clear what they are for. They are poised to pass a reform of medical malpractice laws in N.C. Is that it?

The two biggest problems with the system are costs and lack of coverage (the uninsured). Speaker Tillis and Senator Berger seem like straightforward, nice guys to me. I wish they would make clear their views on the following. If they get their wish and the ACA goes away:
  • Do they believe it is a worthwhile public policy goal to move toward covering all North Carolinians with health insurance?
  • Will they propose legislation to expand health insurance coverage? By what mechanism do they plan to expand coverage?
  • What do they propose to deal with cost inflation in health care?
  • Do they believe that the medical malpractice bill (S33) they will pass will slow down health care costs? If yes, by how much? What will they do if these savings don't materialize?
It is very easy to be against something. Very hard to address the two main problems with our health care system, costs and coverage.

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