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Pipe Dreams

There Germans have a wonderful way of capturing a complex thought in a single word. One of my favorites is that classical human failing, "schadenfreude." It is defined as "the pleasure experienced when witnessing the misfortune of others." It's such a basic human trait, we have a whole TV show dedicated to it that's been running for a couple of decades. ("America's Funniest Home Videos.")

I, like nearly every other human being, feels it on occasion. But I try to restrain my enjoyment of it. I only revel in it when two criteria are met: 1) the victim really, really has it coming, and B) I stop my enjoyment of it as soon as they get past their denial and admit they have a problem.

This morning, I am greatly enjoying the travails of the state of Masachusetts.

That's nothing new, you say, and you're right. But specifically, I'm laughing at their attempts to manage health insurance.

Universal health care coverage is one of the Democrats' big agenda items. They've been pushing for it for a very, very long time; Hillary Clinton did NOT invent the concept back in 1993. But now their longe efforts may be coming to fruition. They've managed to pull it off in one state -- Massachusetts.

By any criteria, Massachusetts ought to be the perfect political laboratory for the Democrats. A fairly small state with a fairly stable population (they are so far behind the population trend, they are expected to lose at least one and possibly two Congressional seats after the next census), and Democrats holding a near-monopoly on political power. They have both US Senate seats, all ten US House seats, the governorship and every other state-wide elective office, and over 85% of each House of the state legislature. The only place where their influence might appear checked is in the Judiciary, where most judges were appointed by the Republican governors who held office from 1991 to 2007, but even there they had a "say" -- all those Republican appointees had to be approved by the always-overwhelmingly-Democratic legislature.

So, Massachusetts concocted a plan to guarantee all its residents health insurance.

No, that's not quite fair. The residents were not "guaranteed" access to health insurance, they were REQUIRED to get it -- under penalty of fines that will, in a couple of years, vastly outstrip the cost of the cheapest coverage. Everyone who did not get insurance from their employer or the government as a form of welfare would have to buy it on their own, with some state subsidies if they qualified. The legislature whipped up this magic plan, Governor Mitt Romney read the writing on the wall (it WAS going to be passed, and he could either get behind it and try to get rid of some of the worst aspects or get steamrollered) and threw his support for it, and it passed.

And they all lived happily ever after. The end.

Whoops. I forgot this wasn't a fairy tale. (And in the state that gave the nation Gerry Studds, Barney Frank, and gay marriage, one isn't allowed to use the term "fairy tale," lest ye be charged with "hate speech.") This is the real world.

So, Massachusetts is well on its way towards bringing health insurance to everyone. How's that working out?

Well, newspaper people are finding a fringe benefit no one expected. They have a new standing headline they can use -- "Costs of universal health care plan higher than predicted."

Of course, with the digital age, changing a headline nowadays is only a matter of a few keystrokes. No one has to mes around with lead blocks engraved with letters any more. Thus they can be considerably more specific in their headlines.

Here's how the Commonwealth messed up, and how they plan to fix it:

State projections obtained by the Globe show the program reaching 342,000 people and $1.35 billion in annual expenses by June 2011. Those figures would far outstrip the original plans for the Commonwealth Care program, largely because state officials underestimated the number of uninsured residents.

The state has asked the federal government to shoulder roughly half of the program's cost from 2009 through 2011, but there is no guarantee of that funding. Commonwealth Care provides free or subsidized insurance for low- and moderate-income residents.

The solution most favored by Massachusetts thus far is to seek more federal money. They originally asked the federal government to pick up half the projected tab for the state-subsidized "entry level" health plan, and the federal government agreed. But the state negotiated a flat fee, not a percentage of actual costs, so the federal government's initial contribution of $300 million has dwindled as a percentage as the actual costs come in. So they want more federal money.

Let me translate that for you in clearer terms: in order for Massachusetts to make certain all its residents have health insurance, they need the other 49 states to pay, too.

What no one wants to point out is that this instantly makes the Massachusetts model utterly untenable on a national level. In order for it to work, they want an outside body -- the federal government -- to pick up roughly half the tab. They can do this because there is a federal government above Massachusetts that they can appeal to.

That is a luxury the federal government itself lacks. It has no higher authority it can tap for extra money. And remember this: the federal government has no money of its own, only that it collects from us. So if it needs money, it has only one way of getting it: that's from you and me.

So Massachusetts is suffering right now, and still in a frantic state of denial. Like a junkie in withdrawal, they are turning to their standard fix: more money from Washington. It was their solution to the skyrocketing costs of the incredibly-ineptly-managed Big Dig program, and now it's their cure to their mandated health insurance program. In both cases, they had big ideas and grandiose schemes that they needed the people of the other 49 states to pay for. In both cases, they are managing the programs in the absolutely worst, most inept, most incompetent fashion. And in both cases, they want the suckers of the other 49 to pay for Massachusetts' folly, a folly that will never benefit anyone outside of Massachusetts. (And, considering how those follies are being run, it's questionable whether they will actually benefit anyone inside Massachusetts, either.)

I have a simple solution: Massachusetts, drop dead.

OK, that's a bit harsh. (Although deserved.) Let's tone it down a smidgen, and say rather: "Massachusetts, you asked for a specific amount of money, and you got it. Now you say you screwed up and need another 3.4 metric assloads of money, or your whole pipe dream (literally, in reference to the Big Dig) will go down the toilet. Sorry to hear that. Tell us where to send the flowers."


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Comments (15)

Knowledge is power. For the... (Below threshold)
Charlotte:

Knowledge is power. For the truth about gay marriage check out our trailer. Produced to educate & defuse the controversy it has a way of opening closed minds & provides some sanity on the issue: www.OUTTAKEonline.com The
depp=true

What?... (Below threshold)
pjaykc:

What?

Yesterday on CNN, some poli... (Below threshold)
Imhotep:

Yesterday on CNN, some political insider called this Mitt Romney's crowning achievement!

Maybe we could join the EU and ask them for money to fund this debacle.

Maybe if a few more residen... (Below threshold)

Maybe if a few more residents elected to voluntarily pay the higher tax rate they wouldn't have such a problem.

Hmmm...wonder who's going t... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Hmmm...wonder who's going to cough up the other half needed when the entire country comes up short of funds?

Dubai?

Jay, you forgot to tie in t... (Below threshold)

Jay, you forgot to tie in the fact that they're simultaneously encouraging as many illegals as possible to move there to offset the population decline, in hopes of not losing a seat in Congress. Add to that the Devaluator's efforts to sidestep the legislature and offer tuition breaks for illegals, and you really have to wonder how anyone could be shocked at the news that the costs of Romneycare have skyrocketed.

This is what happens when y... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

This is what happens when you let Dems have control....

Once Obama is elected Presi... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Once Obama is elected President and with a Democrat controlled House and Senate the Federal government will come to the rescue again just like they did with the Big Dig.

The Big Dig also went a little bit over the original projections. But Congressional Democrats came to the rescue of Massachusetts and overrode Ronald Reagan's veto to make sure that teh Big Dig got funded by the fed.

They'll do it again. Count on it!

As the coffers drain and ta... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

As the coffers drain and taxes zoom,
And pundits proclaim economic gloom and doom,
The "progressives" can look at the wreckage with glee,
"We've got what we wanted. Think how much worse it would be!"

Although Romney was governo... (Below threshold)
SarahConnor2:

Although Romney was governor, both legislative bodies in Massachusetts are overwhelmingly (understatement) full of Democrats. This is their fiesta.

Talk about a real conspirac... (Below threshold)
apb:

Talk about a real conspiracy -

A largely-uneducated public courtesy of a union of teachers supporting a democRat-controlled government - keeping them uneducated in order to keep voting democRat ...

What's with the AMA pushing the bogus '45 million uninsured' meme? Apparently these savants have no idea what price controls will mean to their members...

The solution most ... (Below threshold)
marc:
The solution most favored by Massachusetts thus far is to seek more federal money. They originally asked the federal government to pick up half the projected tab for the state-subsidized "entry level" health plan,
Lets fast forward a bit shall we?

The WH is now controlled by Shillary or Obama-wamma-slamma. Full Fed Gov health care is enacted and within 2 years is horribly in the red.

Just who will THEY turn to to raise the extra cash as Mass, has done?

In Shillary's case at the top of the list would be Dubai (followed closely by China) as hubby and co-pres Bill is on their payroll.

It's anyone guess who Obama-wamma-slamma would turn to but rest assured the Chinese and possibly India would be at the tippity-top of the list.

Jay, I think you're letting... (Below threshold)

Jay, I think you're letting Romney off a little too easily.

If he's wiling to tout this on the road as his success, he's got to shoulder the burden of the bad news too.

He had a choice -- as you say, he chose to jump on board and ride the issue. He COULD have played the Over My Dead Body role and let the Dems override his veto. But he didn't do that --confining his opposition only to the employer mandate portion of the program.

You wouldn't let him off the hook if he had followed the same strategy on gay marriage, would you?

You seem to be missing a ra... (Below threshold)
Joe Citizen:

You seem to be missing a rather obvious point.

The cost overruns are a function of the fact that uninsured people are being covered - and that there were more of them than estimated.

Without this program, these people would have remained uncovered.

Which means they would have contributed nothing to any premium stream, and yet would have continued to be treated, for free, if they got really sick. Of course, the cost for that would be born by everyone who pays health insurance premiums.

You seem to think that because such hidden costs are hidden - that they are not part of ones tax bill, that they dont exist.

If the medical industry were relived of the need to budget for care given to the uninsured, then everyones premiums would go down. Probably no net benefit since taxes would go up to subsidize health insurance. The money is coming out of your pocket in any sense - either through taxes or through higher premiums. The poor are being subsidized in any case, either through government imposed universal care, or through hospitals and doctors padding everyone elses bill to compensate for the free care that they give to the uninsured.

So it is a wash. Except that under a universal care regime, people can afford to do regular checkups and preventitve care - which saves a lot of money in the long run.

Bottom Line:Like a... (Below threshold)
jacksmith:

Bottom Line:

Like all of you. I know that health care is the most critical, and important issue facing the American people. Now, and in the coming elections. And like the vast majority of the American people, I want HR 676 (Medicare For All) passed into law NOW! "Single payer, Tax Supported, Not For Profit, True Universal Health Care" free for all as a right. Like every other developed country in the world has. See: http://www.house.gov/conyers/news_hr676.htm

"HR 676:
For church goers: less money to insur. companies and more to the church- lots more.
Srs on Medicare: save way over $100/wk. Because no more medigap, long term care & dental insur. needed. No more drug bills."

But if we the American people fail to bring enough pressure on our current politicians to get HR 676 passed into law before the elections. We will have to identify, and replace all the politicians standing in the way of passage of HR 676. And, I think the best first place to start is with the politicians that blocked the bipartisan SCHIP bills for the kids. Passed by congress twice.

But what about the President. It was Bush after all that blocked the bipartisan SCHIP bill passed by congress to assure more health coverage for Americas kids. So which of the presidential hopefuls do I think will be most supportive of implementing the demand of the majority of the American people to have HR 676 (Medicare For All) passed into law immediately!

We have some very fine presidential candidates who would make good presidents. But none of the top Presidential candidates directly support HR 676, the only true Universal Health Care plan. So I am supporting Hillary Clinton. She is the only top candidate that has ever actually fought for universal health care before.

I have enormous admiration, and respect for Hillary Clinton. She fought a pitched battle against overwhelming odds back in 1993. To prevent this disastrous health care crisis that is now devastating the American people, and America. She fought so hard for the American people that she risk almost completely destroying her husbands presidency. I haven't forgotten her heroic effort. If any Presidential hopeful for universal health care deserves my support, it's her.

Also, if we the American people fail to bring enough pressure on our government to give us HR 676 which we all so desperately need NOW! Then we will need the most skilled politician we can get on our side to broker the best health care plan for the American people that we can get. Though it will be less than we need, and less than we deserve. The politician I think to best do this is Hillary Clinton. The Clinton's are probably the most skilled politicians in American history.

The insurance industry, and medical industry that has been ripping you off, and killing you has given Hillary Clinton so much money because they fear her. They have also given Barack Obama so much money because they fear Hillary Clinton. They think they can manipulate Barack Obama against the best interest of the American people better than they can manipulate Hillary Clinton. There is no race issue with Hillary Clinton. The Clinton's are the poster family for how African Americans want white people to be towards African Americans.

As always, African Americans are suffering, and dieing in this health care crisis at a much higher rate than any other group in America. The last time there was any significant drop in the African American death rate was when Bill Clinton was president.

My fellow Americans, you are dieing needlessly at an astounding rate. In higher numbers than any other people in the developed world. Rich, and poor a like. Insured, and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies. And we the American people must stop it. And fix it NOW! Keep Fighting!!! Never! give up hope. There are millions of lives at stake. Bless you all... You are doing great!




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