Friday, June 08, 2012

Forcing Steve Beshear to fish or cut bait

This afternoon complaints were filed with the Kentucky Insurance Department against two Christian health cost sharing organizations for operating in the state as illegal health insurance companies.

I filed the complaints and wanted to explain to you why.

Governor Steve Beshear is arbitrarily opposing a single Christian health cost sharing organization, Christian Care Medi-Share, for working to protect innocent Kentucky Christians from the ill effects of insurance regulation at the federal and state levels. To be fair, the state lawsuit against Medi-Share was initiated by the Paul Patton Administration in 2002 and the 2010 Kentucky Supreme Court ruling is on very solid ground in its ruling that Medi-Share was functioning in the state in violation of state law.

But that's where the case gets complicated. Medi-Share has not only asserted that the company should not be regulated as insurance, they have continued up to now to provide services and even advertise for new members on Christian radio.

The Beshear Administration had knowledge of Medi-Share's activities then and filed a July 27, 2011 motion for a contempt of court ruling with the Franklin Circuit Court. Since then the state has moved carefully so as not to draw attention to the case, however employees at the Kentucky Department of Insurance continue to tell citizens asking about the program that Medi-Share is not operating legally, implying that it should be avoided.

Meanwhile, other companies operating similarly to Medi-Share have not escaped the Governor's notice but have escaped any legal action.

Two weeks ago, a Department of Insurance spokeswoman told me two other companies -- Samaritan Ministries and Christian Healthcare Ministries -- had been examined and found to not be violating state law as Medi-Share has been, but that further review would be taken to see if they were still operating in accordance with state law. In the two weeks following that conversation, no such review appears to have taken place.

Based on the wording of the law and the opinion of the Supreme Court supporting the law and the state's action, both Samaritan and Christian Healthcare should not be allowed to operate in the state either. More on that here.

By operating quietly and not following up but telling interested callers to avoid Medi-Share, the Beshear is creating a chilling effect on the operations of Christian Care Medi-Share. The motive appears to be to damage the ability of some Kentucky Christians to escape the mandates of insurance regulation at the state and federal levels without attracting much attention to the effort.

And that is why I filed the complaints. Whether ObamaCare survives this month's U.S. Supreme Court ruling or not, consumers' needs to protect themselves against overzealous government regulation of healthcare will likely only grow. Christian health sharing programs such as these present a form of that protection. Forcing them to operate halfway in and out of the shadows serves only to exacerbate the chaos caused by government dictates in our health care decisions.

The Beshear administration and all of state government need to be dragged out in public and forced to explain why they should be able to harass innocent Christians and the service providers trying to help them survive in today's hyper-regulatory environment. When they are, their arbitrary enforcement of state law in this case will surely be found unconstitutional and the arbitrary nature of the entire insurance regulation scheme in Kentucky may be as well.