NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 27, 2009

Praise Mitt Romney, says the Wall Street Journal.  Three years ago, the former Massachusetts Governor created the "universal" health-care program that the White House and Congress now want for the entire country.  It is proving to be instructive, as Romney's foresight previews what President Obama, Max Baucus, Ted Kennedy and Pete Stark are cooking up for everyone else.

In Massachusetts's latest crisis, Governor Deval Patrick and his Democratic colleagues are starting to move down the path that government health plans always follow when spending collides with reality -- i.e., price controls.  As costs continue to rise, the inevitable results are coverage restrictions and waiting periods.  It was only a matter of time, says the Journal.

They're trying to manage the huge costs of the subsidized middle-class insurance program that is gradually swallowing the state budget, says the Journal:

  • The program provides low- or no-cost coverage to about 165,000 residents, or three-fifths of the newly insured, and is budgeted at $880 million for 2010, a 7.3 percent single-year increase that is likely to be optimistic.
  • The state's overall costs on health programs have increased by 42 percent since 2006.

Like gamblers doubling down on their losses, Democrats have already hiked the fines for people who don't obtain insurance under the "individual mandate," already increased business penalties, taxed insurers and hospitals, raised premiums, and pumped up the state tobacco levy.  That's still not enough money, says the Journal.

Which brings us to Washington, where Obama and Congressional Democrats are about to try their own Bay State bait and switch: First create vast new entitlements that can never be repealed, then later take the less popular step of rationing care when it's their last hope to save the federal treasury, says the Journal.

The consequences of that deception will be far worse than those in Massachusetts, however, given that prior to 2006 the state already had a far smaller percentage of its population uninsured than the national average.  The real lesson of Massachusetts is that reform proponents won't tell Americans the truth about what "universal" coverage really means: Runaway costs followed by price controls and bureaucratic rationing, says the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "National Health Preview: The Massachusetts debacle, coming soon to your neighborhood," Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2009.

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