Silliest thing a San Diego Congress member said this week
According to the Congressional Record, Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, dropped this little nugget of nonsense on the House floor on Monday (emphasis added):
When we talk about budget reduction, rather than denying Americans the right to live in the United States unless they buy certain insurance, why aren’t we talking about doing cost reductions like California has done, not exactly a right-wing legislature?
No one is going to deport you if you don’t buy health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”). This isn’t to argue for or against the mandate, but simply to point out that the penalty is a monetary one. The idea that you no longer have the right to live in the US if you don’t buy insurance is spurious and ridiculous. Yet, Bilbray repeated it three times in his floor speech.*
Some of you may also wonder what kind of Republican in his right (wing) mind would tell Congress to look to the California legislature for answers. To be fair, he’s not talking about the state budget, but California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, or MICRA, which, passed under Gov. Jerry Brown’s reign in 1975, capped medical-malpractice pay-outs at $250,000.
According to Bilbray, the MICRA tort reform has resulted in Los Angeles OB/GYN doctors paying up to 40 percent less for medical malpractice insurance than their counterparts in New York City. We do wonder where Bilbray got his numbers. According to MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com‘s annual comparisons, medical malpractice insurance is as much as 72 percent cheaper in LA than NYC.
Whether the savings has to do with MICRA is, of course, a matter of debate, with MICRA critics citing statistics that showed malpractice-insurance rates climbed until Proposition 103 passed to further regulate the insurance industry. These critics, many of whom are trial lawyers, also point out that the cap has not been adjusted in 35 years for inflation, something they hope Brown will amend this time around.
* In fact, Bilbray is the one actually advocating for a new law that would allow the government to take away American citizenship.
UPDATE: Lucas O’Connor pointed out that Rep. Duncan D. Hunter recently made a remark in an interview that claimed that the federal mandate to build highways, as opposed to bike paths, is in the Constitution:
StreetsBlog: I was just in an EPW Committee hearing and there was some talk about the fact that some small amount of money in the reauthorization historically gets used for things like bike trails. Some people think that’s waste; some people think biking is a mode of transportation. What do you think?
DH: I don’t think biking should fall under the federal purview of what the Transportation Committee is there for. If a state wants to do it, or local municipality, they can do whatever they want to. But no, because then you have us mandating bike paths, which you don’t want either.
SB: But you’re OK with mandating highways?
DH: Absolutely, yeah. Because that’s in the Constitution. I don’t see riding a bike the same as driving a car or flying an airplane.
While that is a pretty silly claim—there is no mentions of highways, cars, airplanes, or bicycles in the Constitution—there is a Constitutional clause that gives Congress the power to establish roads specifically for delivering mail (though, we’re pretty sure that, theoretically, mail can be delivered by bicycle). Plus, Hunter did not say it on the House floor. So, I’m going to stick with the Bilbray determination, while awarding Hunter second place.