Our legislature dislocated a couple shoulders this last week patting themselves on the back. I could give some cheap medical advice about getting them back in their sockets, but then I’d be as guilty as the docs giving the Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine prescriptions online, so I’ll pass on that one. I need a website.

Then our Governor has a campaign event, oops, a public relations event and signs the bill with a bunch of adoring teachers looking on. He didn’t dislocate his shoulder, but he was fawning for adulation. I don’t have a prescription for that one.

All these self-congratulatory contortions had to do with the Governor’s brilliant idea to let teachers get health insurance on the state health insurance policy. Despite what he says, it’s not a new idea. And the punchline is brutal. I’m no standup comedian, so I don’t know how to set this one up. All those twisted shoulders and bend overs had little meat or potatoes even. But I guess that’s what career politicians do. Make grandiose statements, whip up fervor, then go back to doing nothing.

Here’s the simple truth about all this ado. If you look at the big pot, taxpayer money, and decipher what this means for us in the long run, it’s just not much. It’s not worth even a little shoulder pain. But hey, it’s an election year. You’ll be seeing more of these shenanigans.

Teachers get health insurance, like any full-time worker should. Districts look around for the cheapest policies and best benefits and negotiate with insurers for the best deal.

The state has a health insurance program that they fund themselves but contract with Blue Cross of Idaho to administer. The State of Idaho is the largest employer in the state (sorry Wayne Hoffman) and self-funds the insurance, meaning they keep a pot of money for Blue Cross to draw from and then pay BCI a percentage for making those payments.

Where is the savings?

Well, if the local district is reimbursed from the state for health insurance that’s a big cost savings for them. If teachers get their health insurance paid for from general fund dollars (sales taxes and income taxes) and districts don’t have to pay from their resources (property taxes) then we have shifted a big cost from local taxes to statewide taxes. Savings? Not really, just a shift.

If you really believe having the biggest pool of patients will drive down costs (and it MIGHT) then you are talking single payer health insurance, and that’s talking communism in Idaho. I think there’s a law against that. At least there’s one about teachers talking about it.

So, these politicians are head over heels that they have saved small districts, maybe even big districts some money. You should be too since you will need to be voting soon. And I’m saying they haven’t, just shifted the costs. If they really believed heath insurance costs should come from general funds, the big bucket, instead of property taxes (local buckets) then they could have funded these costs years ago. Believe me, it was talked about.

But here’s the brutal punchline you voters need to know. What was the price tag for this magnanimous endeavor? Millions? Nope. Not a dollar was expended. This law that the legislature passed, and the Governor signed in front of a bunch of fawning teachers didn’t cost a dime. It only set up a fund, without a dollar in it.

But that is their intent they will scream.

Maybe. Time will tell.

They’ve done this before. The politicians you and I elect do this frequently. Just look at the Idaho Housing Trust Fund. It was established in 1992, back when there was some balance in the Idaho legislature. But it was never funded. It could never receive matching federal dollars to build affordable housing. (Smile Wayne).

So, you happy teachers and property taxpayers, your health insurance check is not in the mail. Don’t thank Brad or your legislator. Yet.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.