Massachusetts healthcare FAIL – the future of obamacare

The beta version of obamacare has been in place for about 3 years in Massachusetts. Romneycare promised to cover everyone while bringing healthcare costs down – fallacious promises with no connection to simple logic and common sense. So after three years, how is Romneycare working out for the folks in Massachusetts? In a word – FAIL. Some of the major points of FAIL:

  • It doesn’t cover everyone
  • Health insurance premiums are the highest in the US and continue to rise rapidly
  • Rising costs forced the state to deny premium increases putting insurance companies at risk
  • Increasing numbers of people who are “gaming” the mandate – buying insurance only when they have health problems, then dropping it and paying the fines
  • Government limits on expensive medical procedures

This piece (from the Wall Street Journal) points out that the failure of Romneycare is not a good omen for the future of obamacare.

President Obama said earlier this year that the health-care bill that Congress passed three months ago is “essentially identical” to the Massachusetts universal coverage plan that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed into law in 2006. No one but Mr. Romney disagrees.

As events are now unfolding, the Massachusetts plan couldn’t be a more damning indictment of ObamaCare. The state’s universal health-care prototype is growing more dysfunctional by the day, which is the inevitable result of a health system dominated by politics.

How are government healthcare supporters handling the failure of Romneycare and its implications for the future of obamacare?

Liberals write off such consequences as unimportant under the revisionist history that the plan was never meant to reduce costs but only to cover the uninsured. Yet Mr. Romney wrote in these pages shortly after his plan became law that every resident “will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced.”

One junior senator from Illinois agreed. In a February 2006 interview on NBC, Mr. Obama praised the “bold initiative” in Massachusetts, arguing that it would “reduce costs and expand coverage.” A Romney spokesman said at the time that “It’s gratifying that national figures from both sides of the aisle recognize the potential of this plan to transform our health-care system.”

An entitlement sold as a way to reduce costs was bound to fundamentally change the system. The larger question—for Massachusetts, and now for the nation—is whether that was really the plan all along.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand that adding multiple layers of stultifying bureaucracy and huge numbers of people to the system will not reduce costs. That promise was a lie meant to grease the skids for a government takeover.

“If you’re going to do health-care cost containment, it has to be stealth,” said Jon Kingsdale, speaking at a conference sponsored by the New Republic magazine last October. “It has to be unsuspected by any of the key players to actually have an effect.” Mr. Kingsdale is the former director of the Massachusetts “connector,” the beta version of ObamaCare’s insurance “exchanges,” and is now widely expected to serve as an ObamaCare regulator.

He went on to explain that universal coverage was “fundamentally a political strategy question”—a way of finding a “significant systematic way of pushing back on the health-care system and saying, ‘No, you have to do with less.’ And that’s the challenge, how to do it. It’s like we’re waiting for a chain reaction but there’s no catalyst, there’s nothing to start it.”

In other words, health reform was a classic bait and switch: Sell a virtually unrepealable entitlement on utterly unrealistic premises and then the political class will eventually be forced to control spending. The likes of Mr. Kingsdale would say cost control is only a matter of technocratic judgement, but the raw dirigisme of Mr. Patrick’s price controls is a better indicator of what happens when health care is in the custody of elected officials rather than a market.

The government wants to extend price controls to healthcare providers as well – in effect setting prices for medical procedures and hospital services. Since these government geniuses know everything about everything, you can rest assured that the taxpayers will be bailing out hospitals when this policy fails.

Finally, to add insult to injury, the state wants to put doctors under their boot:

Meanwhile, Richard Moore, a state senator from Uxbridge and an architect of the 2006 plan, has introduced a new bill that will make physician participation in government health programs a condition of medical licensure. This would essentially convert all Massachusetts doctors into public employees.

You can expect a mass exodus of medical professionals from Massachusetts if this becomes law.

This is the future of our healthcare system. This is the hope and change we were promised by our dear comrade leader…


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