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Sicko

I've been sitting on two stories from the Boston Globe all week, trying to find just the right angle. And I think I've found it.

One of the hallmarks of Mitt Romney's tenure as Massachusetts' governor was the implementation of state-wide mandatory health insurance. Everyone who didn't have health insurance would get it -- or else. The state would subsidize insurance for those who lacked, and if that didn't work, they'd fine you for having the gumption to go without.

I didn't fault Romney for going along with the plan. With the Democrats holding 85% of the legislature and having a full head of steam for the idea, there wasn't much he could do. He chose to "ride the tiger" and step out in front of the plan, trying to at least steer it a little instead of getting steamrolled by it.

I do fault him for touting it as one of his proudest accomplishments, however, because it's turning into precisely the kind of disaster so many expected.

It turns out that the initial estimates of how many people would sign up for state-subsidized coverage were woefully low -- it turns out that they're actually a lot closer to the numbers the critics had predicted, not the backers. Gee, what a surprise. So the Commonwealth of Massachusetts finds itself having to scramble to find another $245 million -- and that will just cover the rest of this year. For the next year, it's projected to go up another $400 million over expectations..

Here's the key sentence, the one line that sums up just why I find the whole matter so horrifying:

State and federal taxpayers are expected to bear nearly all of the additional cost.

Gee, thanks. And how much will that be?

Well, the article says that they hope Washington will pony up half the costs -- by my reading, $325 million.

In order for Massachusetts to make sure that all its residents have health insurance, all of the rest of us who pay federal taxes get to kick in. And it wouldn't be a Boston Globe story without the obligatory mention of the "undocumented:"

Illegal immigrants are not subject to the insurance mandate or eligible for state insurance, but they can qualify for free care.

"Free," meaning they don't have to pay for it. The state and the federal government will pick up the tab, or the hospital gets to eat the costs. Ain't they generous?

So, if Massachusetts does come up with the extra $645 million, will that fix the problem?

Not hardly.

Here's the key quote:

This idea of an individual mandate absent comprehensive reform - how to say this politely? - is nuts. It makes a social failure the problem of the individual. As Angell points out, "It gives the idea of government-sponsored universal coverage a bad name."

No, government-sponsored universal coverage gives government-sponsored universal coverage a bad name, Mr. Angell.

It's a truism that if you want to find the most cumbersome, most expensive, most inefficient, and most inhumane way of doing something, you put the federal government in charge of it.

This is the model that the Democrats want to use for the nation. Unfortunately, the federal government doesn't have a higher authority to appeal to for a bailout, like Massachusetts does.

A little while ago, I quoted an observation about this whole issue without naming the source. It turns out that it was the always-quotable P. J. O'Rourke, who summed up the situation absolutely perfectly:

"If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free."


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Comments (21)

"Unfortunately, the federal... (Below threshold)
DoninFla:

"Unfortunately, the federal government doesn't have a higher authority to appeal to for a bailout, like Massachusetts does."
Except...us, the Tax Payers...of course, there will be no "appealing" to it, just slamming...I'm pissed!

Exactly JT. Why do people e... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Exactly JT. Why do people even think the government will run our healthcare system with any logic or efficiency? The government has proven time and time again that they are inept, very slow and cumbersome. ww

When the middle class runs ... (Below threshold)
lilshaver:

When the middle class runs out of money to pay for all these entitlements you don't think the rich are going to support them do you? Instead of giving the poor housing, food stamps, ADC etc. why not put them to work? We could even subsidize their wages and still save money. I'm in favor of giving those that need it a helping hand when they need it, but I'm not in favor of this becoming their life style.

We need to just let people ... (Below threshold)
hogcaller:

We need to just let people die like they would have in the natural state.

Making others pay for someone's healthcare is carrying the value of life too far. This is exactly what you get for preventing abortion.

Excellent post and it point... (Below threshold)

Excellent post and it points out what many of us have said all along.

Pop quiz, name one program the government has run efficiently and under budget.

**Jeopardy Theme Music**

What is none?

I could save my small busin... (Below threshold)
Imhotep:

I could save my small business an extra $100,000/year by dumping...err handing over my employees health care costs to the state.

It seems that's precisely what many small businesses have done in Mass. (and probably some big businesses too.)

Oh! It's costing more than... (Below threshold)

Oh! It's costing more than they said it would? Say it ain't so!

And Mr. Angell is an idiot.

"When Lyndon Johnson devised Medicare in 1965, he didn't order senior citizens to go out and buy private insurance, adequate and affordable or not, or be fined. Medicare covered everyone, bypassing the notoriously inefficient private insurance industry." [emphasis mine]

Yeah, in favor of the notoriously inefficient government. People shouldn't be forced into the system by mandate. They should be forced into it because they have no other choice. You see, private health care companies can't make you pay into their system when costs rise. The government can - and will. Then the wealthy they hate so much will be the only ones who CAN afford private health insurance, private hospitals and more personalized, special care.

Theodore Roosevelt said: <i... (Below threshold)
hcddbz:

Theodore Roosevelt said: "A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards."The Federal government is horrid at health care. The prime example is the VA. Since the 1638 the government has tried to take care of our service men and in many cases it falls short. Even with promotion to Cabinet Level position in 1989 the VA still has many issues caring out the above mandate. When the VA can provide what President Roosevelt asked for at it 671 facilities, then one can give government health care some thought. Until then I want everyone in Washington to take their health care proposal and make it work for out Veterans who have paid the price in blood, and body parts for our country's freedom.

Try for a moment to imagine... (Below threshold)
Rovin Author Profile Page:

Try for a moment to imagine this on the scale that California had intended to pass, but failed yesterday when the senate came to their senses:

"In handing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger his biggest legislative setback, members of a Senate panel expressed concerns Monday that his plan to cover most Californians without health insurance was inadequately funded and would worsen the state budget crisis."

"But the legislation negotiated by the Republican governor and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles, was unable to surmount several political hurdles beyond the annual tab, now estimated at $14.9 billion".LINK

Not one republican senator voted for this legislation and many Dems also voted No.

With the State already in arrears to the tune of 12 to 16 billion, it's a miracle they came to their senses and sent this one to the trash bin.


Anything built on a false p... (Below threshold)
CarlF:

Anything built on a false premise is destined to fail. The notion that health insurance is a necessity is pure fiction. If I have even $1 million in the bank, do I really need health insurance?

If I make the Federal Minimum Wage of $5.85 per hour, and the Federal Government uses my first year of mandatory Medicare and Social Security taxes as a healthcare "seed" invested in lowly US Treasury Bonds, and then allows me to contribute my medicare taxes to this investment; I wouldn't need health insurance but for a few years.

The exception here is for the people who have severe health problems as young adults. However, it doesn't make sense to try and cover these individuals by forcing EVERYONE to buy health insurance. This is like saying some people can't afford the rising price of gasoline, so we're going to just give it away to those people and make everyone else pay extra for it whether they drive an SUV or a Prius or not at all.

I've had 3 family members k... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

I've had 3 family members killed by the ineptness
and dysfunction of socialized medicine in the
once 'great' Britain. That's all the proof I need
of how it would be here in the states. Our medical
system is screwed up enough without the federal
government sticking their uncaring hand into it,
and completely destroying it.

In an effort to cover the u... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

In an effort to cover the uninsured the government is likely to ruin health care for the insured.

There is no tax penalty for... (Below threshold)
ken caselli:

There is no tax penalty for those who have not used health insurance for the tax year. Unfortunatly though, one has to claim one does not want if for "religious reasons". On my tax return, ( I have health insurance, by the way )I will cross out "religious convictions" and write in "political convictions". I will probably still be penalized, but will sleep well at night that I am trying to preserve the freedoms we have in this world.

Too bad that Canada, a coun... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Too bad that Canada, a country that has a government-run, national health care program, spends half PER CAPITA of what the United States does on healthcare...Ever stop to think that the reason that costs are spiraling out of control is because of the overhead costs that insurance companies shoulder to their customers, as well as hikes in premiums and the refusal to cover necessary procedures? Hmm...NAH. That wouldn't fit the rhetoric.

I'm not asking anyone to support a fully state-funded health care system. I'm just asking that those who do oppose such a system be honest about its faults, and not conjure about fairy tales about a national system costing more than a private system, which is demonstrably FALSE.

Paul: factor in th ... (Below threshold)
epador:


Paul: factor in th US subsidization of Canadian HC in yur figures,please.

Canadians can't get the hea... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Canadians can't get the healthcare Americans can.

Paul, are you really that i... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

Paul, are you really that ignorant about Canadian healthcare? Canada cuts costs by rationing care, by making people wait and by reducing available healthcare equipment and personnnel.

The wife of a friend of mine living in Manitoba tore her ACL. It was more than 8 months before she was scheduled for an MRI. Then, with the MRI done, it was another 8 months before she had surgery to correct it. Nearly a year and half on crutches for your wonderful healthcare.

I also wanted to comment on... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

I also wanted to comment on Paul's statement:

not conjure about fairy tales about a national system costing more than a private system, which is demonstrably FALSE.

The British Medical Journal published a comparison between the British NHS and Kaiser Permanente. The conclusion was that Kaiser provided better care at approximately the same cost compared to NHS. So Paul, maybe you really don't know what you are talking about when you whine about private healthcare.

My point was, for those of ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

My point was, for those of you who failed the reading comprehension portion of the SAT, that the author's comments about universal health care being unaffordable were completely false. That was all. I welcome criticisms of one-size-fits-all systems based on their actual problems.

SPQR: you may well be right -- except that overall, the United States still spends more than England on health care and the latter country still manages to cover everyone. Do we need a government-run health system like England's? No. But we can afford to offer coverage to everyone in a well-regulated private system, and at less of the cost than we currently pay.

I love our country, but I f... (Below threshold)
Duane:

I love our country, but I fear the government. The government at any level Federal, State or Local should never be equated with intelligent rational thinking. I don't know what it is I just can't put my finger on it, but I've noticed that when people run for public office they seem almost normal and then if and when they get elected something happens, I think their brains fall out or something, because after their elected and they receive their first Welfare Check from the people who elected them, they turn into self serving babbling idiot's. i.e. Ted Kennedy.

No, Paul, we cannot both pr... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

No, Paul, we cannot both provide more coverage and spend less. That is the kind of economic fraud that Democrats' love to proclaim - but it remains a fraud.

Universal care means rationing either by government fiat, or waiting lists or both. Britain has done both, deciding that certain people are not entitled to certain treatments.




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