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"How Can There Be A Problem? We Passed A Law!"

One of Mitt Romney's last little gifts to the people of Massachusetts was a plan that required every single resident of the Commonwealth to carry health insurance under penalty of law. I think P. J. O'Rourke would call it the "Take Care Of Your Health Or We'll Kill You" plan.

As I understand the way the plan works, if you have health insurance, you're fine. If you don't, your employer is "encouraged" to offer you some sort of plan, even if they don't offer to pick up part of the tab. And if all else fails, you sign up for some state plan. No matter what, you're GOING to be covered.

Well, the plan's been in effect for about a year now, and what's the result? Pretty much as you'd expect.

The real fun will come at the beginning of the year, when the state will find itself obligated to fine those people who -- for whatever reason -- have chosen to not sign up. Will Massachusetts have the courage of its convictions and actually carry out the legal penalties for going without health insurance? Will they repeal the law? Amend it to lessen or remove the penalties?

All possibilities, but as a long-time observer of Massachusetts politics, I don't think those are weaselly enough for Bay State politicians. Instead, I'll predict that they'll either extend the deadline or just ignore it entirely.

Remember, this is the health plan that Mitt Romney boasts of. This is a version of Hillary Care that the former first lady and current junior senator from Illinois ... um... where the hell did she end up, anyway? What state had the open Senate seat in 2000? Never mind, you know who I mean.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. This is the future of health care insurance reform that some of the candidates are putting forward. And if you're wondering just how it'll be presented, let me quote the end of the article:

Jarrett Barrios, president of the Blue Cross Foundation, says the outreach effort needs to "move into the trenches" to address more directly the reasons that make people choose not to apply.

"That choice jeopardizes not only their own health, but may jeopardize the entire project of health reform," he said.

That's right. The poorest, least educated, most disadvantaged segment of the population just might hold the power to destroy a plan intended to take care of everybody by exerting their "right to choose," by saying that -- for whatever reason, and it certainly is not our place to judge their reasons -- they do not wish to participate.

If Mr. Barrios is to believed, that is incredibly shaky ground. But Mr. Barrios is the same former Massachusetts State Senator who once proposed banning schools from offering Fluffernutter sandwiches as an attempt to check childhod obesity. So I tend to take his pronouncements with several times my Recommended Daily Allowance of salt.

But think about it. Here we have the bluest of blue states, the state that is completely owned -- lock, stock, and barrel -- by the Democrats (both Senate seats, all ten House seats, every single statewide office from the Governor down, and over 85% of the Legislature), and the biggest threat they can see is from poor, uneducated, disadvantaged people exercising a choice on a matter of their own personal health and safety. That they might make the "wrong" choice could destroy one of their proudest achievements, and imperil the health coverage of hundreds of thousands of people.

If that doesn't open your eyes and scare the crap out of you, I don't know what more I can say.


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Comments (19)

There are tremendous ironie... (Below threshold)

There are tremendous ironies in any governmental attempt to cater to a people's "health care needs." The thing is inherently self-contradictory. An agency whose defining characteristic is its privilege of wielding force against those who resist its will is not the proper provider of what anyone "needs," much less entitled to define those needs and enforce them at gunpoint.

Unfortunately, the seed ideas and laws are in place, and have been for some time. Medicare and Medicaid. Tax-privileged treatment of medical insurance provided as compensation. Tax-privileged treatment of medical expenses. And let's not forget the laws, which I believe are in effect in all fifty states, that compel a hospital to render emergency treatment without consideration of ability or willingness to pay...and the laws that compel a hospital to accept whatever payment arrangement a patient can "afford" for whatever treatment he might be rendered.

It almost makes me wistful about the days of debtors' prisons. The enabling agency is in each and every case the State, the agency with the unique privilege of saying "Do as we say or we'll kill you." And sadly, against all our most "compassionate" impulses and inclinations, that is where any effort at correction must be aimed.

I see one of my favourite b... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

I see one of my favourite bloggers posts here. :)

The daily dose must be a horse block of salt, what flavour do you like?

As to the poor, uneducated, or indigent destroying their 'perfect' plan, these people might get blamed, but the originators are the ones who planned for guaranteed disaster. Wonder how it feels to be an indentured servant of the state of
Taxaclueness?

Maybe someday they'll figur... (Below threshold)

Maybe someday they'll figure out that passing a law doesn't actually DO anything to solve a problem - all it does is create a bureaucracy to handle the problem the law was supposed to address. Depending on how 'effective' that bureaucracy might be in the implementation of the solutions demanded by the law, you can have either success or failure regarding the stuff the law was supposed to address - but passing a law never did anything to actually solve a problem.

I think every article the G... (Below threshold)

I think every article the Globe has ever written about New Bedford starts with the high unemployment due to the closing of the textile mills.

The textile mills closed in the 1950's fa crissakes. It ain't as if they haven't had time to rebound, like their sister city of Fall River has.

Dysfunction id immune to government intervention.

Evidently you don't realize... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

Evidently you don't realize that all of this is for your own good! If you don't think so, just ask Hillary! (Please make sure your questions are not in the form of a hypothetical. She doesn't answer hypotheticals.

"The textile mills closed i... (Below threshold)

"The textile mills closed in the 1950's fa crissakes."

Always one to "trust but verify" I did a little research. Fa crissakes the textile industry was at its height in the 1920s and in serious decline in the 1930s! The vast majority of today's workers in New Bedford have probably NEVER set foot in a textile mill!

Time to move on people!

one reason i'm not a big ro... (Below threshold)
Dave W:

one reason i'm not a big romney fan. I remember when he proposed this and i sat here and just shook my head.

Elisa, you are correct, but... (Below threshold)
wavemaker:

Elisa, you are correct, but lest I be assailed by some yahoo, I thought it prudent to pick the date of the last closure (a full decade befiore Berkshire Hathaway was bought by Buffett.

You know what bothers me mo... (Below threshold)

You know what bothers me most about any story about the poor and uninsured? The hand and hand statement that the poor abuse the system. Maybe the case is true in large numbers, but my family is way lower income and never have used the system.

We can not afford to buy the insurance through my husbands work, as we would have no money then. So we eat healthy, exercise, and work to maintain our health. When the unexpected occurred( my oldest broke an ankle) we arranged a payment system and paid it off in 3 months.

Now to the major calamities, hey, we had full medical coverage, when I was pregnant with my oldest, and the insurance dropped me due to not informing them that I was a high risk pregnancy person. Now how could I know that never having been pregnant before, nor had any health issues?

So either way the 'system' runs the numbers and crunches what can be most beneficial. Being lumped into the category of abusing the system is plain wrong.

As to my oldest(he cost 32,000.00) and we made the final payment on him when he was 5.

Thanks for pointing out Romney's health plan and the failure thereof.

Passing laws don't mean squ... (Below threshold)
BillyBob:

Passing laws don't mean squat if they don't enforce them. Just look at our immigration laws, and laws, and laws, yet folks keep invading our country like they're entitled to and we must pay for it.

A law mandating someone must have health insurance. What utter bullshit. Romney is a slickmeister flipflopper mormon cult member with no chance at the white house.

Actually, I think the artic... (Below threshold)
Rich:

Actually, I think the article says something slightly different. The poor, who still get a free ride, sign up in the thousands.

It's the lower middle class, who are now going to have to pay another $200 or $300 a month who are afraid to sign up.

So ... the people who cost the system the most sign up, and the people who can at least partially ofset the costs of their plans don't, and then get fined for it.

Just lovely.

I'm a Romney supporter but ... (Below threshold)
Baggi:

I'm a Romney supporter but am confused about what ive been hearing about this plan. Its as though real information cannot come out about it because Democrats on the left who hate Romney and love the plan want to sink his ship and Republican on the right who hate the plan and hate Romney also want to sink his ship.

It will be interesting to see how Romney handles this. If he does well it will bode well for his Presidential run. If he does poorly it will indeed sink his ship of a candidacy.

From what little unbiased reporting I have seen of the plan though it sounded to me like the best plan possible considering the political circumstances.

Basically, like car insurance you are required to have health insurance. The exception is that if you can afford to take care of yourself you can then opt out of having health insurance.

Romneys a smarter guy than I am though and so far, I trust his judgement on this. It will be interesting to see how it all works out.

jennifer, $32,000 buys 3 ye... (Below threshold)

jennifer, $32,000 buys 3 years worth of family coverage. If you can pay that off in three months, you got more money than you think.

$32k was for the birth of h... (Below threshold)

$32k was for the birth of her first son, not the broken leg.

We *have* insurance but are still in hock for a couple thousand in emergency room bills.

As a young male, I didn't h... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

As a young male, I didn't have health insurance for a lot of years. Didn't want it or need it. I didn't make nearly enough money to afford it either. Young people in entry level jobs should not be forced to obtain health insurance. It is effectively a penalty for the benefit of older, sicker, wealthier people.

So Jeff, what is it called ... (Below threshold)

So Jeff, what is it called when you end up in the ER with no insurance and the cost of your treatment is passed on to us?

"So Jeff, what is it cal... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

"So Jeff, what is it called when you end up in the ER with no insurance and the cost of your treatment is passed on to us?"

A free ride?

Requiring someone to buy so... (Below threshold)
Dave W:

Requiring someone to buy something like health insurance is stalinist at best.

Why don't we start rationing food and water?
We're on our way there...

"Why don't we start rationi... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

"Why don't we start rationing food and water?
We're on our way there..."

Yes, once it was just fiction,Soylent Green

Sheesh, wish we had PIMF!




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