Well we have a race in Georgia with NO incumbent! So pay attention.
Our Libertarian pick is Shane Bruce and here is my "bloggerview" with him:
- LW: Health Insurance is probably the biggest subject discussed in any of your interviews. About the only question I can’t find is: would you support across the state line competition?
SBruce: Of course. I’d support buying insurance across national boundaries if I thought the contract was enforceable. There are a number of impediments standing in the way of purchasing coverage across state lines, most of which are barriers erected by our legislature to preserve the profit margins of the insurance companies domiciled here in Georgia. Did you know we have a “Retaliatory Tax” built into our system to make sure that an economic advantage an insurance provider in another state may enjoy due to lower taxes is wiped out by requiring the company to pay the highest rate from either state.
LW: Hmmmm can we say "Atlas Shrugged" anyone?
- LW: Explain to the less educated among us the relationship between the commissioner and underwriters. Would you have any influence with them? Their purpose and “power” has always confused me (please tell me I’m not the only one).
SBruce: The main gig at the Commissioner’s Office is to regulate the practices of companies that sell insurance in Georgia. Those practices have to comply with Georgia Code and it is the job of the Commissioner to ensure that they do. Ideally, the Commissioner should be an impartial judge, uninfluenced by those he regulates. In reality, the office of Commissioner has been used by past administrations to sock away campaign cash in exchange for “favors”. If elected, that will not happen on my watch.
- LW: You’ve said one of your goals would be to drag it (commissioner’s office) kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Would that include digitizing our personal health records? Many of us say UGH no!
SBruce: I am a Libertarian. I concur with your apprehension about digitizing medical records and making them available across the hugely integrated data networks that serve the health care infrastructure. Keep in mind that the Office of the Commissioner does not handle health records, just records of insurance providers, complaints by consumers and a host of other data points to comply with the Georgia Code. That needs to be modernized. I am also in favor of decentralizing the office from one location in Atlanta to as many a 6 regional offices through out the state. The entire state pays for the Office, mayhap some regional offices would provide a better level of service, not to mention bringing some stable jobs to distressed areas.
LW: See, I AM getting an education.
- LW: I have to take you back in time to when you first filed your intent and the battle that ensued over party designation. You said: “I call on the head of the State Ethics Commission to change this process to allow third party candidates to be listed by their political affiliation instead of lumping all of us together under the generic, mundane and boring label of “other party”. I’ll be on the ballot this fall as a Libertarian, not as a member of some “other party”. This is a simple request with a simple solution, responding with “That’s the way we do it” ain’t gonna get it. If you’re not able to to make this simple administrative change, I want to know why.” My question is, can we count on this same fire and determination in all your efforts on behalf of Georgians?
SBruce: Certainly. Hopefully with better results than my o-so-brief run in with the State Ethics Commission. They stood by their flawed decision and I was not able to move them. It was a stark lesson in governmental relations for me, I had no champion in government to make my case so the bureaucracy won with disdain. If elected, I will not allow that to happen to Georgia citizens with a complaint over insurance matters.
- LW: Industrial Small Loans, or Payday loans as some call it. From a free market perspective, how do you keep them performing their service and yet protect (as some would have government do) Georgia’s citizens from the more unscrupulous lenders.
SBruce: The solution to Georgia’s Pay Day Loan operators can be found in a program running successfully in North Carolina where one the state’s Credit Unions starting offering short term (2 weeks) small cap loans ($500 or less) at 12% interest rates. That Credit Union now has a majority of the market share in that kind of lending in North Carolina and it is big business with a percentage of the loan deposited into the borrower’s credit union savings account. I would like to see similar competition here in Georgia to provide another choice for our hard pressed citizenry in these horrendous economic times.
LW: That's certainly better than the 25% title loans here!!
- LW: Would you support a 10th amendment style nullification of Obamacare.
SBruce: I’m pleased that the court challenge has passed phase 1. The 10th amendment is the 10th amendment and certainly outlined the do’s and don’ts. The real question is, would a republican or democrat state house have the courage to use it?
- LW: Let’s set the record straight on the premium tax, is it $6 million or $600??? And how does that work?
SBruce: The number for 2006 was $630,000,000. In suspect it’s a little less in 2010 due to less business. Here’s a link to the report by Georgia State University on the arcane nature of the tax and how’s it’s split between the general fund and various and sundry municipalities in Georgia. It is astonishing that the city of Waycross or Lilburn or Hahira and others can elect to help themselves to your insurance payment courtesy of the state.
Thanks Shane! Hey Georgia, 15 days.