Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

January 24, 2008

So What’s Going On With Romneycare ?

by Doug Mataconis

When Mitt Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, he signed into a law a bill mandating that every resident purchase health insurance or pay a fine to the state to subsidize the cost of state-provided insurance.

When the law was passed it was assumed that most people would be covered by employer provided insurance, but according to the Boston Globe, Romneycare is costing the state a lot more than expected:

Spending on the state’s landmark health insurance initiative would rise by more than $400 million next year, representing one of the largest increases in the $28.2 billion state budget the governor proposed yesterday.

The biggest driver of the cost increase is projected growth in the number of people signing up for state-subsidized insurance, which now far exceeds earlier estimates.

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

Of course they are, it’s only logical. Why should employers provide health insurance to their employees when they know that those employees will be able to take advantage of a taxpayer subsidized alternative ? Why should individuals make the effort to find cost-effective health insurance when they know the state will provide it for them ? When you subsidize something, in this case uninsured citizens, you get more of it, and that’s exactly what’s going on here.

Keep in mind what’s going on here. We are talking about a health insurance plan that was proposed nearly three years ago by then Republican Governor Mitt Romney, who is now running for President claiming to be a conservative. Is this what he would impose upon America; a massive, unfunded mandate that will single-handedly wreck the private insurance market ?

And it’s not just the insurance market that’s at stake here:

[T]he long-term cost of the insurance initiative continues to concern pol icy makers and analysts, who are worried that it may become unaffordable.

“These increases are more than anticipated, so we absolutely have to find ways to hold down the rate of growth in future years,” said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-funded budget watchdog that has supported the initiative.

Steve Verdon points out, accurately I think, just exactly how that is likely to happen:

Here are two ideas that push the cost back on the individuals in the plan and will never show up on a balance sheet anywhere:

  1. Increase waiting times.
  2. Suspend certain procedures, treatments, etc.

The nice thing about these two is that while they impose costs in the individuals in the plan, there are no dollor costs.

In other words, rationing health care. Thanks Governor Romney, but I’ll pass on that one.

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