Montana Republicans are touring the state to say that they’ve finally found the alterative to the Affordable Care Act they’ve been searching for: legalizing religious insurance ponzi schemes.
Republicans are hosting seminars on the scheme across the state, the latest was in the Flathead, as you can see from this flyer. Former state insurance commissioner John Morrison took legal action and shut down such schemes as fraud in 2007, but now Republicans are hoping to resurrect the effort to legalize the insurance ponzi schemes as an alternative to allowing Montanans to buy insurance through the exchange or to expanding Medicaid to the working poor.
Here’s how this works: To join the ponzi scheme you must must pledge your devout Christian faith (and even get a reference from a minister). You must not to drink, take drugs or have sex outside of a “traditional” marriage. Pre-existing conditions make you ineligible to participate at all, although one does get the benefit of a “prayer chain.”
The coverage doesn’t include products of “un-Biblical lifestyles,” such as contraception or substance rehabilitation–or preventive care like PAP tests, colonoscopies and mammograms.
Usually, bill-sharing plan members contribute a predetermined amount each month. When they have a medical bill, they receive monetary help from fellow members. All of the programs are careful to bury in the fine print that they not promising to pay bills, only “facilitating a voluntary sharing.” Some of these schemes even publish your medical problems in a newsletter to “share” your bill with the community in case anyone wants to chip in–so much for medical privacy.
The MT case in which insurance commissioner John Morrison shut down the scam was initiated after a Montana pastor submitted his bills for treatment of a heart condition and a company called Medi-Share refused to pay for them. The pastor had signed a contract with a scheme called Medi-Share for coverage of his medical expenses, but the company continued to maintain that they had no duty to pay claims.
Meanwhile Art Wittch has tried to plagiarize Scott Walker’s failed planfrom Wisconsin, which has already failed in that state, been widely panned by the states own legislative counsel and the states largest papers. They say Walker cost state taxpayers hundreds of millions more than if they had gone with the actual medicaid expansion and that besides costing state taxpayers hundreds of millions more the Walker plan “left the state worse off.”
To be sure, these are positive developments in that Republicans have realized that they have lost the battle of whether reform and coverage should go forward, the battle is now over what kind of coverage and reform that should be. So this is, for now, a victory for the people of Montana, even though these ludicrous ideas for costly failed boondoggles and insurance ponzi schemes from other states must not go forward.