Friday, March 28, 2008

Massachusetts Health Care "Reform": So Successful, We Can't Afford It!

If you're still struggling to figure out how Massachusetts can be so overflowing with supergeniuses, nuanced liberals and elite academicians...and STILL be one of the worst-run states in America, this news story on the current budget crisis offers key insights that may help.

You could start with Governor Patrick's direct, unnuanced statement that “It’s not that I’m hostile to taxes." But that's too easy. No Massachusetts politician is "hostile to taxes." They're constantly looking forways to take as much money from taxpayers as they can get away with.

But the real insight comes from the discussion of the Massachusetts health care mandate, a Mitt-Romney-supported state law that forces everyone to buy health insurance, but gives us very little flexibility as to the level of coverage. Everyone is forced to buy the same level of coverage, whether or not they can afford it. So what happens? People who could afford Wal-Mart coverage but aren't allowed to buy it instead enter the taxpayer-subsidized program for Macy's-level coverage. Great for them--lousy for the taxpayers.

Oh, and since more "free" health care means higher demand, the result is higher prices for medical care. That in turn drives up the cost to taxpayers of paying for everyone else's insurance, which means more people can't afford their own health coverage, which drives them to the state's program, etc., etc.

That's how the system really works (or fails, depending on your perspective). But how to Massachusetts pols view the health care problem?
Leslie A. Kirwan, chairwoman of the Health Care Connector Authority Board, acknowledged that the health care law has been so successful that it will cost significantly more than anticipated. Exactly how much more, Kirwan couldn’t say, but she said the cost to taxpayers would be significantly more than anticipated in the governor’s proposed budget for the new fiscal year — a budget that also had depended on casino revenues to help make up a gap in funding for state aid to cities and towns. [emphasis added]

"It's so successful, we can't afford it!" This is what Massachusetts calls a "success?" If so, we better hope for a few state government failures...before we all go broke.