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All Da King's Men

Romney's Albatross

By Da King Published: May 19, 2011

Mitt Romney wants to be the Republican candidate for President in 2012, but he has a problem. That problem goes by the name RomneyCare. Here's how Wikipedia describes RomneyCare (aka, Massachusetts Health Care Reform):

The Massachusetts health care insurance reform law, enacted in 2006, mandates that nearly every resident of Massachusetts obtain a state-government-regulated minimum level of healthcare insurance coverage and provides free health care insurance for residents earning less than 150% of the federal poverty level (FPL)[1] who are not eligible for Mass Health (Medicaid). The law also partially-subsidizes health care insurance for those earning up to 300% of the FPL.

Hmmm. Mandated health insurance, subsidized coverage...sounds a lot like ObamaCare. That's no coincidence. RomneyCare was the model for ObamaCare, and therein lies Mitt Romney's problem. Republican primary voters HATE ObamaCare, so why would they vote for Romney, who instituted a similar plan when he was the Governor of Massachusetts ? Good question, and Romney has a hard time answering it. He says he's against ObamaCare, but insists that RomneyCare was "right for the people of my state". Constitutional issues aside, if the plan was right for Massachusetts, how can it be wrong for America ? Romney says the individual health insurance mandate in Massachusetts was necessary because it's a matter of "personal responsibility", but the last time I checked, personal responsibility was something exercised by an individual person, not something the government forces you to do, or, in the case of subsidization, something someone else does for you. I'm missing the "personal responsibility" aspect there.

Romney said the individual mandate was necessary in Massachusetts to combat the "free rider" problem in healthcare. I'll let columnist Jeff Jacoby pick it up from here:

Since federal law requires hospitals to provide urgent care to anyone requiring it, Massachusetts needed a way to prevent uninsured free riders from using hospital emergency rooms to get medical care at public expense. Making insurance compulsory for those who could afford it, Romney says, was the solution to the free-rider problem.

President Obama said the exact same thing about ObamaCare:

“There’s always going to be somebody out there who thinks they’re indestructible and doesn’t want to get health care,’’ the president has argued. “And then… they get hit by a bus, end up in the emergency room, and the rest of us have to pay for it.’’

That sounds fair enough. You shouldn't have to pay for someone else's health care, right ? Heck, you have a hard enough time paying for your own health care. Maybe this individual mandate is the right thing to do after all....hey, wait a minute ! Both RomneyCare and ObamaCare DO MAKE YOU PAY FOR SOMEONE ELSE'S HEALTH CARE ! That's what the subsidies are all about ! The taxpayers pick up the health care tab. Ah, those hornswogglers almost had me fooled there for a second. Both RomneyCare and ObamaCare are ALL ABOUT giving people a free ride. Don't let them fool you into believing anything different. Those politicians, you gotta watch 'em every second. They'd try to sell sand to an Iraqi.

Romney has more 'splainin' to do if he thinks he's going to get the GOP nomination.

I have an idea. Maybe Mitt can simply explain to the people how great RomneyCare has been for Massachusetts. If he shows what a success it has been, he could make himself look good and lessen GOP fears about the impending ObamaCare

debacle plan. That's the ticket. Being the helpful sort, I'll give old Mitt a helping mitt myself. Here's what has happened with health care in Massachusetts since RomneyCare was implemented in 2006.

- by 2010, 98.1% of Massachusettsians (Massachusists, Massachusetterans ?) had health insurance, far better than the nationwide average of 83.3%. Score one for the Mittster.

- In 2006, it was projected that RomneyCare would cost $725 million by 2011. The actual cost is estimated to be $1.35 billion by June 2011, almost double the original estimate. Subtract one for the Mittster.

- An American Journal Of Medicine study about medical bankruptcies found the following: 1) From 2007 to 2009, the total number of medical bankruptcies in Massachusetts increased by more than one third, from 7,504 to 10,093; and 2) Illness and medical costs contributed to 59.3% of bankruptcies in 2007 and 52.9% in 2009. The researchers note that the financial crisis beginning in 2008 likely contributed to the increased number of bankruptcies, and Massachusetts' increase in medical bankruptcies over the 2007-2009 period was nevertheless below the national average rate of increase. I guess we'll call that one a..wash ?

- As for RomneyCare's effects on insurance premiums, there is a study by ecomonists that reached the following conclusions:

We find that health reform in Massachusetts increased single-coverage employer-sponsored insurance premiums by about 6 percent in aggregate, and by about 7 percent for firms with fewer than 50 employees. The effect of reform on family premiums is less uniform. If Massachusetts is compared to the nation as a whole, reform had a modest 1.5 percent effect on family premiums. However, in the Boston MSA, and among employees of small firms, the effect of reform on family premiums was much greater. Family premiums grew by about 8 percent more in Boston than in the 19 largest other MSAs from 2006-08, as compared to 2004-06. For small employers, the differential Massachusetts/US growth in small-group premiums from 2006-08, over and above the growth from 2004-06, was 14.4 percent.

- Massachusetts has the second highest state health care costs in the nation (link).

- RomneyCare and ObamaCare are both designed to prevent Emergency Room overcrowding. But RomneyCare has resulted in more Emergency Room visits, not less.

- RomneyCare has resulted in longer waiting periods for a doctor's appointment, up to 48 days.

RomneyCare hasn't been a big moneysaver. Just the opposite. It insures more people, but it costs more and the waiting periods have gone up. About what I would expect, and that's about what I expect from ObamaCare as well. How President Obama thinks he's going to add tens of millions to the insured rolls, tens of millions to the Medicaid rolls, and reduce spending and the deficits at the same time is a complete mystery to me. My experience tells me when the government gets it's hands on something, costs only go up, and service only goes down.

Sorry Mitt, I guess I couldn't provide the help you need. Good luck to you, but you're on your own.



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