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Insurance exchange: NH Dems, GOP switch sides

Here is an unexpected political development. The Democratic leadership of the N.H. House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee has moved to kill a business regulation proposed by some House Republicans. The Democrats say the regulation of insurers who offer coverage on the Obamacare exchange would have the unintended consequence of raising insurance prices. They are right.

House Bill 1294, sponsored by Rep. Bill Nelson, R-Brookfield, would require any health insurer participating in New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange to negotiate in good faith with every interested health care provider in the state. It is a response to Anthem excluding 10 hospitals from its exchange network.

The committee’s Democratic majority concluded that insurers do save money by limiting their coverage. Therefore the bill would raise insurance rates by severely restricting their reasons for excluding a provider from the network.

The Democratic-led committee has suddenly discovered that health insurance regulations have consequences well beyond their intended effects. Simply passing a law ordering insurers to do what we wish insurers would do is not an actual solution. Statutes do not trump economics.

Now if only most politicians would wake up to this reality, we could undo so many past mistakes and vastly improve our abysmal insurance market.

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