Archive for the ‘The Capitol Connection’ Category

Below is a Capitol Comment I received from Representative Doug Ervin back in January. Representative Ervin addresses the Missouri State Sovereignty Rally that took place last month in Jefferson City.

Capitol Comment
Representative Doug Ervin
January 16, 2010

House and Senate Priorities

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”

–       Thomas Jefferson

The second week of the session has concluded and business in the Missouri House is taking shape.  As bills begin to be referred to committees and committees begin public hearings, the legislative agenda takes shape.

The most notable event of the week occurred on Wednesday when visitors from across the state crowded into the Capitol Rotunda to hold the first ever Missouri State Sovereignty Rally.  The purpose of this year’s rally was prompted by the massive opposition by Americans to the federal health care proposals and encroachment of the federal government into our private lives.

Those in attendance are concerned that the federal health care proposals would create an unfair tax on individuals who do not purchase health insurance and penalize businesses that do not offer it to their employees.  They oppose the massive expansion of welfare at the expense of the states and lack of fiscal restraint.  Their opposition is well founded after Democrat negotiators in Washington caved and exempted union health care plans from their proposed 40% tax creating yet another special class of Americans at the expense of the rest of us.

The week was also the scene of a joint press conference by House and Senate leaders outlining a joint set of priorities for this session.  First, and foremost, fiscal responsibility and passing a balanced budget will be front and center.  Missouri’s revenue collections continue to lag projections and difficult choices will be in store.  The fiscal priorities include:

”       Urging Governor Nixon to issue prompt income tax refunds;
”       Require legislative oversight for the spending of federal stimulus dollars;
”       Reduce fraud and abuse in the Medicaid system
”       That the state of Missouri will live within its means; and
”       Pledge that there will be absolutely no tax increases on Missourians.

In addition to passing a sound, fiscally responsible state budget so that Missouri continues to be solvent and viable for future generations, these priorities also include protecting our constitutional rights and Liberty; continuing to secure the health, safety, and welfare of all Missourians; and continuing to uphold traditional, common sense Missouri values.   Specifically, the House and Senate recognize these issues as necessary to reach these goals:

”       Ensure greater transparency and strengthen ethics in government;
”       Oppose a bloated and expanded government, support smaller government;
”       Oppose the federal government takeover of our health care system;
”       Call upon Congress to oppose job destroying cap-and-trade legislation;
”       Make certain that statutes pertaining to clean water are implemented to ensure public safety of our citizens; and
”       Require credit agencies to withhold reporting negative information if it is caused by identity theft.

As our state continues to face budget uncertainty and Missouri’s unemployment recently inched up to 9.6%, Missouri must be wary of any proposal, state or federal, that would potentially cost Missouri financially or at the expense of our collective identify as Missourians.

These proposals are intended to allow people keep more of their own money, to allow them to make decisions for themselves and their families, to give individuals more liberty in their consumption, savings, and debt retirement.  At some point, we, as Americans, will decide whether Thomas Jefferson’s maxim will prevail – will we allow Liberty to yield and government to gain ground?

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns.  LaTonya Percival, my Legislative Assistant, and I are always available to answer questions and address your concerns.  I can be reached in Jefferson City at (573)751-2238 or you can write me at doug.ervin@house.mo.gov or regular mail at 201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 412A, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

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For a Better Missouri,

Doug Ervin
State Representative
District 35, Missouri

Below is the most recent Capitol Connection from Missouri state Representative Doug Ervin. ClayCoMOPolitics had the opportunity to set down with Mr. Ervin a couple weeks ago and was reminded that he does have good representation at the state level, and, that all politicians aren’t bad. Some are actually very informed, they are just few and far between. 

I asked Mr. Ervin at the time if he would consider speaking out about health care from his perspective, first as a citizen of Missouri, second, as someone that represents other citizens of Missouri. For those that don’t know, this is an issue that Mr. Ervin is well versed in, and one he has been working on at the state level for years. It is my hope that all state Senators and Representatives are speaking out like this in their respective districts. This is an outstanding piece, well written, well worth your time to read. There are real solutions proposed by Mr. Ervin at the end, and I must say, if we only had his voice in Washington on this issue! Thank you Mr. Ervin for taking your time to do this!

Capitol Connection

August 26, 2009

A Prescription for Health Care in America

Just exactly what will health care look like in America in the coming years?  Even better, who will pay for it?  At this point in time these questions are very difficult to answer, but they are important questions that we should all be concerned and vocal about.

Congress and the Obama administration have decided to provide their answers to these questions and this past month in town halls all across this great land of ours and have shown just how tone deaf our elected officials in Washington, D.C. really are.

With unemployed at 9.3% and expecting to top 10% next year and a federal deficit growing so fast that revisions to the trillions of dollars of debt are blurring the reality of our actual financial condition, the White House has characterized our current situation as “grim”.  Yet, amidst this “grim” outlook our Congress and executive branch are all about socializing American health care under the guise of “reform”.  When will they understand that the problem with socialism, aside the loss of individual liberty, is that you will eventually run our of other people’s money?

So much has been written against these proposals, and Congressmen and Senators have received an earful at their town hall meetings during the August recess, that the real issue at hand in health care has been forgotten – out of control costs.  Both sides of the debate have publicly stated that they favor lower costs, more choice, and reducing the number of uninsured.

We struggle today with a health care system that is price blind and quality silent, with inequitable tax treatment of coverage, extensive government regulation of benefits and marketing opportunities. 

What is missing in the debate is a real conversation about the cost drivers in the system, e.g. over-utilization, technology, and the infusion of public dollars, but even these are symptomatic of other challenges, e.g. third-party payors, innovations in health care, and spending public money in hopes of solving an ill-defined problem.

Policy makers should be discussing cost drivers like friction in the system, waste, error, delay, and variance.  These are all cost drivers that exist due to the lack of free market principles in American health care and they deserve more attention.

It is possible to reduce costs.  It is possible to create more competition.  It is possible to reduce the number of uninsured.  All of this is possible without tax increases or running up our national debt or eroding our Liberty.  This is possible if we allow Americans to own their health care coverage and make health care decisions with their doctor.  This is known as consumer-directed health care.

Consumer-directed health care is simply defined as giving consumers the ability to have choice in their plan benefits, ownership of their plan, and have the information necessary to “shop” for their health care goods and services leading to better service and competition.

A movement in the direction of consumer-directed health care requires us to put aside the old “iron triangle” of the industrial age of cost, access, and quality and embrace a new “iron triangle” for a new health economy that addresses ownership, access, and privacy.

Our current health care finance model is extensively regulated with a substantial reliance on third-party payment systems that distort incentives. This distortion when coupled with the lack of transparency in prices and quality measures limit the effectiveness of competition.  Add in the fact that societal attitudes towards health care are different from other goods and service sectors and you have an environment that is difficult to reform.

In other words, give consumers the tools they need to actively engage the health care market through the promotion of private property, i.e. the ownership of health insurance.

The key components of such a transformation will embrace the market and seek to improve it through ownership and transparency.  Ownership is only possible when the market distortions are leveled for consumers in the marketplace.  It will also require consumers to “come to grips” with the public consequences of their private actions. 

Think about it, our car, life, and homeowners insurance have no connection to the workplace.  They are purchased by individuals and are owned by them until the individual decides otherwise making these insurance products portable – who the individual is employed by is irrelevant in regards to our ownership and consumption of these insurance products.

If individuals can’t “take it with them” or have choices in their plan benefits, e.g. deductibles, coinsurance, co-pays, provider networks, and have some certainty that they won’t change on a yearly basis, then we can’t be consumers – we remain recipients borrowing or renting our health insurance from benevolent employers or worse, politicians seeking re-election.

If we don’t have control over the plan benefit options that best fit our family’s needs and we don’t have the ability to take our health insurance with us when we switch jobs, then we can never achieve ownership. 

Why then should health insurance be any different?

Congress and the Obama administration should drop their belief that government is the only honest player and put their faith in the American people once again.  The following proposals will promote ownership and competition while preserving Liberty:

Tax Equity.  Give every American taxpayer the full deductibility of their health insurance premiums from their federal income taxes regardless of whether they have group insurance or an individual health insurance.

Portability.  Make it possible for individuals to own their health insurance coverage and take it with them from job to job.  One study indicated that up to 40% of workers who get their health insurance through their employer never advance their career by going to another company, they never start a small business, or engage in an entrepreneurial activity, because they are afraid of losing their health insurance.  Congress should consider the loss of invention and innovation, because of such laws on the books today!

Transparency.  Our health care system is price blind and quality silent.  Individuals have a right to know the relative price and quality of health care goods and services.  Without this information we can never make value decisions about our health and truly exercise our rights in property of our own health.  We know the cost of every other good and service before we purchase it, why not health care?

Guaranteed Access.  The current debate is infatuated with this notion of reducing the number of uninsured to reduce the amount of uncompensated care.  The real issue is not the uninsured, but those who have pre-existing conditions and are considered uninsurable.  Those individuals who are considered uninsurable, i.e. they can’t be medically underwritten for an individual health insurance policy, are more likely to contribute to uncompensated care.  Affordable, publicly subsidized high risk pools should be promoted and funded in each state.

Interstate Commerce of Health Insurance.  Remove barriers to allow individuals to purchase health insurance policies across state lines from any insurance company in any state.  This would allow consumers to purchase plans that best suit their needs, instead of the interests of local politicians, by escaping expensive mandated benefits and extensive regulation, e.g. a family in New York with extensive regulations, e.g. guaranteed issue and community rating, will pay about $12,254 for a policy versus a family policy in Missouri for $5,535 which does not require guaranteed issue or community rating.

Health Banking.  It is time to give consumers ownership of their health care records.  Consumers already manage their own bank accounts, investments, and purchases.  In this new information age consumers deserve to have the same authority over their own medical records.  Consumers should have the ability to designate who may see their private information.  Consumers should be able to legally own and be protected through privacy laws a copy of their complete, lifetime medical record.

These proposals will transform American health care into an even better system than we have today by reorienting our state and federal health care policy toward the objectives of the individual and away from the employer, the insurer, providers, and government through portability and fairer tax treatment among all consumers of health care goods and services.

Once individuals own their own health insurance and take control of their own health care needs, then transparency of prices and service will be demanded by consumers.  As Milton Friedman so aptly pointed out, “…if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property.”  After all, “Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own.”

Feel free to forward this email to friends and family to promote an informed and active citizenry.

This is the July 2nd edition of Doug Ervin’s (MO-35) e-newsletter The Capitol Connection. There is no pertinent information in this edition but I do like what the Rep. Ervin did with it. He went back and gathered various quotes from people during and after the Revolution A good touch for July 4th.

The View from 1776

Words that stirred a people’s hearts towards independence:

“The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.”

Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

“The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.”

Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

“There is a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away.  There is a time to fight, and that time has now come.”

Rev. Peter Muhlenburg, sermon delivered at Woodstock, VA, January 1776

The resolution in Congress:

“Resolved:  That these colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that they are absolved of all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Richard Henry Lee, Resolution in Congress, June 7, 1776

The debate in Congress regarding independence:

“In my judgment it is not only ripe for the measure, but in danger of becoming rotten for the want of it.”

John Witherspoon, debate in Congress on the Declaration, July 1776

“Before God, I believe the hour has come.  My judgment approves this measure, and my whole heart is in it.  All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it.  And I leave off as I began, that live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration.  It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment.  Independence now, and Independence for ever!”

John Adams debating in Congress, July 1, 1776

The document that changed the world:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitles them…

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.  That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among there are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

…for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

Declaration of Independence, 1776

Signing the Declaration of Independence:

“There!  His Majesty can now read my name without glasses.  And he can double the reward on my head!”

John Hancock (attributed), upon signing the Declaration of Independence, July 1776

“My hand trembles, but my heart does not.”

Rhode Island Delegate Stephan Hopkins (attributed), at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, 1776

A charge for the fighting forces of America’s Continental Army:

“We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die:  Our Country’s own Honor, all call upon us for vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world.  Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions.”

George Washington, General Orders, July 2, 1776

Celebration and Remembrance:

“The second day of July, 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America, to be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival commemorated, as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”

John Adams, July 3, 1776

“The flames kindled on the 4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.”

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, September 12, 1821

After the Declaration of Independence was signed, success in the field of battle remained uncertain.  The year 1776 was arguably the darkest year of our history.  Another pamphlet, by necessity, was penned to stir the hearts of the Continentals and the militia to fight on:

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.  Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.  What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.  Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, December 23, 1776

As the United States of America moves beyond today:

“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

– Patrick Henry

“It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth — and listen to the song of that syren, till she transforms us into beasts.”

– Patrick Henry

“Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of.  Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution.  On you depend the fortunes of America.  You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn.  Act worthy of yourselves.”

– Dr. Joseph Warren

“The difference between the path toward greater freedom or bigger government is the difference between success and failure; between opportunity and coercion; between faith in a glorious future and fear of mediocrity and despair; between respecting people as adults, each with a spark of greatness, and treating them as helpless children to be forever dependent; between a drab, materialistic world where Big Brother rules by promises to special interest groups, and a world of adventure where everyday people set their sights on impossible dreams, distant stars, and the Kingdom of God. We have the true message of hope for America.”

– President Ronald Reagan, 1984

A fitting toast each and every Independence Day:

“Independence forever.”

– John Adams’s toast for the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826

May God bless our men and women in uniform on missions throughout the world serving on our behalf and may He comfort those whose loss runs deep.

Feel free to forward this email to friends and family to promote an informed and active citizenry.