How the Insurance Industry”incarcerates” the purse strings of lawmakers

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

It is no secret that medical care is inadequate for inmates.  Legislators have a history of not approving adequate funding for the care of those who are incarcerated.  So when a bill is proposed that would save taxpayers money and still allow for inmates to receive medical care (under the provisions of the bill), you would think that Legislators would be happy, right?

Wrong.  The insurance industry obviously has influence over legislators with this issue.

Yesterday the House shot down a bill that would permit inmates to use their private insurance to pay for their health care while incarcerated.

H.B. 22Inmate Health Insurance Amendments,would require the inmates’ private carrier to serve as the primary insurer while serving time in a state or county facility.

According to an article in the Deseret News,

House members voted against the bill, saying state taxpayers should pick up the cost, even if the inmate is insured.Opponents said during debate that the bill painted insurers as bad guys, when in fact the bad guys are the ones who broke laws that got them arrested and incarcerated. They also argued that the bill was anti-free market and smacked of government takeover of a private enterprise.

Interestingly, the article points out the amount of donations candidates received in the 2008 elections.

In the 2008 election, the insurance industry gave $313,311 to state-level candidates (including the Legislature, governor and attorney general), according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Insurance companies gave the second-most of any industry that year, outdistanced only by the securities and investment industry, which gave $614,207, according to the institute.

And big insurance companies lose few political fights in the Utah Legislature.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, points out the cost savings to taxpayers with the passage of this bill.

The bill would save county jails more money than the state, with only a handful of felons in the state prison having outside health insurance. But a number of county jail inmates, who may be sentenced for several months up to a year, have insurance while incarcerated, Ray said.

"Taxpayers are getting hammered, and it’s time for insurance companies to step up and pay for what they’ve contracted for," said Ray just before his bill was voted down on a 30-44 vote.

This is just one example of how lawmakers are"incarcerated" themselves by big corporations….and at the expense of taxpayers and those in need of care.

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