At times, it looks like a certain segment of our society actually believes that ignorance is not only bliss, but something to strive for.
An example of this mindset was displayed in the state House Monday when a bill setting up a board to oversee a health insurance exchange mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act was amended to keep health insurance and service providers off the panel.
So, representatives from Hawaii Medical Service Association, Kaiser, Hawaii Dental Service, Hawaii Primary Care Association and Maui Medical Group will not be allowed to serve on the board.
In effect, the move said if you know anything about health care, we don't want you.
The health care exchange - to be called the Hawaii Health Connector - is expected to hook up as many as 100,000 uninsured Hawaii residents to subsidized insurance plans. Consumer advocates said there would be a conflict of interest if the insurers and providers served on the oversight board.
But, doesn't the board need some expertise in the health care field when it evaluates the plans to be offered? Doesn't the board need expertise in determining what parts of health care insurance are essential to be included in any and all plans?
Sure, it would have been inappropriate for an HMSA or Kaiser rep to vote on one of his company's plans as acceptable - but that stumbling block could have been taken care of by requiring recusal on such votes.
But, no, we are going to consign any expertise to "advisory panels." Frankly, we think that opens the door to a bigger possibility of conflict of interest than membership on the board. There can truly be a fine line between an adviser and a lobbyist.
Instead of giving frank advice on what should be included in any plans the exchange recommends, there will be a temptation to champion one's company's stock offerings. All of which means the oversight board may be getting a sales pitch instead of honest opinions about the essential parts for the exchange's plans.
We hope the Legislature will reconsider this hasty move. Requiring recusal from votes on one's company's plans solves the problems.
Don't rob the Hawaii Health Connector board of needed expertise.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.