Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Giving With One Hand, Taking With the Other

As the General Assembly prepares to override Governor Ehrlich's veto of the Fair Share Healthcare bill, which will require businesses in the state with over 10,000 employees to contribute a fixed portion of their profits to healthcare costs, state "regulators" have adopted a plan which could cause up to 450,000 Marylanders to lose prescription drug coverage.

While Delegates and Senators try to ward off the unseemly advances of Wal-Mart's hired State House streetwalkers, the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) is gutting the pharmaceutical coverage of individuals working in small business. The new plan, PharmFlex, "eliminates required coverage for brand name medications and increases the deductible employees must pay for generic drugs from $250 to $2,500 for an individual. Employees must also pay 75 percent of the generic drug price."

The move is intended to reduce insurance costs by somewhere around 10 percent. Of course, with healthcare costs climbing around 10 percent a year this hack-and-slash tactic by the MHCC is unlikely to produce any positive long term results. Instead, they'll keep cutting employee benefits while our antiquated health insurance system hangs like an albatross around our collective necks.

How about the MHCC set up a pharmaceutical buyers network to help Maryland businesses import drugs from Canada? How about they lobby for universal healthcare to give Maryland businesses a competitive advantage? No, it's easier just to trim the fat from the starving.

In the meantime, try not to get sick.



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