June 28th, 2009

Health insurance reform: as Massachusetts goes…

so goes the nation?

Actually, the Massachusetts plan for health insurance reform, which passed in 2006 with bipartisan support and required everyone in the state to have health insurance or face penalties, seems almost modest compared to some of the things Obama and the current Congress are cooking up for us. The huge flaw it shares with Obamacare is an utter failure to account for where the money would be coming from to subsidize coverage for the then-uninsured [emphasis mine]:

In Massachusetts, the numbers never added up, as everyone involved in crafting the new law understood. But for a variety of reasons, ranging from Romney’s presidential aspirations to Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s longstanding commitment to healthcare reform, everyone smiled for the cameras and hoped for the best out of this noble experiment…

“They decoupled the access issue from the cost issue,’’ said Philip Johnston, chairman of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, which played a key role in expanding healthcare coverage here. “The lesson is, there needs to be a dedicated revenue source to support health reform.’’

Well, surprise, surprise, the funds haven’t magically dropped from the skies in the three years since the bill became law.

Are our politicians that stupid, or that naive, or that focused on votes and that contemptuous of the public’s ability to put two and two together? Or all of the above (except for the naivete)?

Joan Vennochi, who wrote the Globe op-ed I’ve been quoting here, has the following advice for Obama:

The president insists he can overhaul the healthcare system without adding to the deficit.

He should take this final lesson out of Massachusetts: Be honest about cost in the good times and make sure you can cover it in the bad.

This presumes that if Obama fails to do so he is either stupid or naive. I think he’s neither; I believe he knows full well what he’s doing and not doing, and has no intention of taking any lesson from Massachusetts—except, perhaps, for the one that says you can fool most of the people most of the time.

But Obama already knows that; he doesn’t need Massachusetts to tell him.

27 Responses to “Health insurance reform: as Massachusetts goes…”

  1. Tatyana Says:

    I remember having a long conversation with a woman on LiveJournal about MA healthcare program. She lives, I think, in Brookline, at that time presented herself as a “right-leaning centrist”.
    She was very enthusiastic about the new program; as far as I remember her description was that there are various levels of healthcare , just like in regular insurance, that one purchase individually. The only difference is that the State is the guarantor: an individual buys insurance for group rates, because each is a member of a group the size of a state. She bought a middle-priced plan for her mother.
    I wonder what she think about it now…She undergone a reverse process to yours, Neo: became a trivial “open borders” lefty.

    I guess the Dems’ tactic worked on her: they bought her with their “social programs”…

  2. Jane K Says:

    As a transplanted New Yorker and now MA resident (sound familiar, Neo?!!), I can say first hand that the MA plan is a dud. All of my NY friends constantly say, “isn’t it wonderful that you live in a state where everyone must have health insurance?” Yeah, if it were Shangri-la.
    So what is the problem? First of all, the onus falls squarely on the individual. If a person for whatever reason does not obtain health insurance, they are penalized at tax time, every year (what else it new in Taxachussetts I mean Massachusetts). If a business does not provide health insurance to it’s employees, they pay a one-time per employee penalty – quite preferable to subsidizing a monthly group health insurance premium. The result? Many hard-working individuals in MA – many friends of mine – are not provided a health insurance option by their employers and are forced to take the Commonwealth Plan, or worse, the Mass Health Plan. Trying to find a doctor that will take either of these plans is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I’m lucky that I have had employment by large companies and in between I pay my $600 a month for COBRA. The MA health insurance mandate may look great on paper, but in practice, it sucks. I am not looking forward to even more government intervention with the Obamessiah’s health plan overhaul.

  3. Holmes Says:

    The revenue will come from the “cap and trade” bill. A trillion or so in new tax dollars which is the approximate cost of the health care bill. It’s pretty clear the “Cap and Trade” has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with introducing a convoluted tax. And of course the health care bill has nothing to do with improving health, merely making another monument to our short-sighted political class.

  4. Mr. Frank Says:

    What most people fear with respect to health care expenses is catastrophic losses associated with dread diseases or serious injury. As soon as a plan starts to cover office visits and short hospital stays along with things like birth control and Viagra, it gets very expensive. Allowing large deductibles (e.g., $5000) and copays (say 50%) up to a stop loss would make insurance affordable for what most people fear — being wiped out. People buy cars, furniture, food, and clothing as well as lots of luxuries. It is reasonable to expect people to pay for basic health care. Insurance can cover the situations that wipe people out. Expecting health care to be “free” is unreasonable.

  5. jon baker Says:

    Maybe it IS all about wiping the country out finacially. Use that as an excuse to further couple the North American Continent, en route to a Western SupraNational Entity. As it has been suggested by another commentor on a previous post- dominated by the EU.

  6. jon baker Says:

    A Western bloc dominated by the EU.? An Eastern bloc dominated by the Chinese? A Northern Bloc dominated by the Russians? A weak Southern Hemisphere Bloc of nations that do not fall completely under the other three’s influence with portions of the Southern Hemisphere dominated by the Chinese and Western bloc??

  7. Tom Says:

    The Left is committed, always, to Great Leaps Forward. The solution is always so obvious to them that pilot programs, such as Mass has provided, are a stupid waste of time. When a pilot inadvertently occurs, they have myriad reasons why it went wrong, so onward with the Great Leap, whatever that might entail. Just trust ‘em!

  8. Artfldgr Says:


  9. Tatyana Says:

    All: above is a spam post using my name (fortunately, not my URL) and the text of my comment for promotion of their product. Please disregard.

    [from neo-neocon---I'll do better than that. I deleted it.]

  10. Huan Says:

    one of the main reason i am leary of Mitt Romney as the candidate for GOP Presidential nominee

  11. Tatyana Says:

    Thank you, Neo – I’m having an unpleasant day, and that was par for the course.

  12. neo-neocon Says:

    Huan: Yes, it doesn’t reflect well on Mitt.

    Then again, as governor of a state like Massachusetts, he had to throw some fish to his overwhelmingly liberal constituents. But I agree it shows a surprising and disturbing lack of fiscal responsibility.

  13. chuck Says:

    “I think he’s neither.”

    Evidence? I think he is both naive and a bit on the stupid side. I haven’t seen anything that looks like intellectual curiosity, and a man with a sharp mind wouldn’t have so much trouble articulating ideas and specifics. Mind, he has been successful in getting elected, and that is an art of sorts, but that is a political art and was greatly aided by an unprecedented propaganda effort on the part of the MSM. In many ways the election was like nothing so much as a bad movie.

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Chuck: I’ve come to believe that Obama’s vagueness is strategic. I also believe he is extremely intelligent and knows exactly what he’s doing. It just isn’t the same as what he’d like the American public to think he’s doing.

  15. chuck Says:

    I’ve come to believe that Obama’s vagueness is strategic.

    Yes, I know. But that is that same pattern I have seen in intelligent people who support Obama; they assume he is working to some super intelligent hidden plan that exceeds understanding. It’s sorta like believing God had good reason to drown Galveston and then working it out, explaining God without any, you know, actual celestial guidance in the matter. I think the more likely truth here is that Obama doesn’t have a plan.

    Before the election I predicted Obama would be passive and let congress (Pelosi & Reade) run the show. I made that prediction because that is what is in his resume. I don’t think I was wrong. People don’t suddenly change their SOP after several decades spent standing around and letting others do the work while sucking up the credit. I think Obama uses the “I” word so often because he really doesn’t think he is qualified. It’s a ghastly sort of insecurity.

  16. Sal Says:

    I’ve written extensively on this subject, as a current resident of Massachusetts. The MA plan has manifested all of the pitfalls of government-run health care that we conservatives have been arguing would happen ever since HillaryCare was first introduced in the early 1990s.

    With the MassCare, we now have doubled the length of time to book an appointment, costs have skyrocketed higher than the rest of the nation, and doctors are leaving the state for greener pastures (there is now a huge shortage of doctors in a state that has for so long prided itself with some of the best health care in the nation).

    To top it all off, the program is insolvant. So, to try to fix it, the legislature is proposing fee schedules and paying per person insured rather than having insurance companies and the state pay by treatment or procedure, giving doctors little incentive to perform needed tests and procedures.

    Sometimes I wonder why I still live here, but I married a MA girl, so I guess I’m here to stay :).

  17. neo-neocon Says:

    Chuck: Well, I certainly don’t think Obama has a super intelligent and hidden master plan. It’s not especially intelligent, and it’s only hidden to those who haven’t been paying attention (unfortunately, that’s probably a majority). If it’s hidden (and he certainly has tried to hide it), it’s hidden in plain sight. The plan is income redistribution, and a series of policies that reward his natural constituents and supporters (those not paying taxes, the Left, the greens, the unions, etc.) and punish his opponents (the Right, the wealthy, business people).

  18. neo-neocon » Blog Archive » Health insurance reform: as … Says:

    [...] Original post:  neo-neocon » Blog Archive » Health insurance reform: as … [...]

  19. chuck Says:

    :The plan is income redistribution, and a series of policies that reward his natural constituents and supporters

    In a word, he is a machine politician from a big city machine surrounded by advisors from the same culture. We’ll see how machine politics, which has been the ruin of many a city, plays out in the country at large. I expect it to be a close run thing, but maybe the tide will start running the other way. At some point people will want to see positive results rather than listen to another spiel. And I think Obama blew his chances right there at the start by not taking the stimulus bill seriously. But it will take time for all the consequences to filter down through the system.

  20. Mel Williams Says:

    I think Obama is a fairly intelligent guy, but I work at a University where there are quite a few intelligent people like him. I don’t think he’s particularly special this way.

    The big question for me – is the guy smart? Does he understand human nature? How well does his particular set of life experiences inform his intellect? Can he take the measure of people and situations and basically get it right?

    And, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, the ‘intelligent’ people I know (to whom I’m putting Obama on a more or less par with) all seem to have very little understanding of economics. It is, in my opinion, the least studied discipline at our places of higher learning. I don’t have confidence that Obama does anything more than go with his experts.

    If Obama has some game plan that he is in control of, that he is masterfully playing, I’ll be very surprised.

  21. Baklava Says:

    Obama understands economics less than any President I have witnessed (Reagan forward).

    There are problems that America needs addressing. Obama is not addressing the problems and in fact exacerbating the very problems he identifies needs fixing.

    But he won he ways. What an arrogant *****.

    No matter that he won, it is his duty to do the due diligence necessary to make good decisions. We can’t hope for him to have an epiphany. We can only hope that the American public put a stop to this mess in 1.5 years….

  22. SteveH Says:

    “”If Obama has some game plan that he is in control of, that he is masterfully playing, I’ll be very surprised.
    Mel Williams”"

    The master plan is to maintain power and control at all cost. All his senseless policies make perfect sense once thats understood.

  23. turfmann Says:

    Bipartisan? Massachusetts? Ha! Please realize that you can fit the entirety of the Republican delegation to Beacon Hill into an SUV. That’s obviously a bit of hyperbole, but not much.

    I readily concede that Mr. Obama is a very intelligent man, as we all should; one does not ascend to the highest office in the land without sufficient intellectual horsepower.

    It is not his intellect that is at issue here, it is his political ideology. The trap that the 52% fell into on election day was that they projected upon the self-professed blank slate their own notion of his ideology, while completely ignoring the plain fact that the man is a marxist.

    No matter how hard some brave journalists tried to reach through the fawning din created by the dinosaur media to inform us of the true nature of this man, it was not enough.

    Realizing that he must still obfuscate his true ideology, marxism is still anathema to the capitalists that are still the majority in America, he twists himself into pretzel knots trying to appear moderate to the electorate, all the while working behind the scenes on his true aims.

    Why is he (with his congressional enablers, Pelosi, Reid, etc.) so intent upon rushing through legislation so sweeping in its scope, so profound in its effect upon our nation, without stopping long enough to read the content of the bills, to fulfill the campaign promise of waiting five days for comments before signature? CRISIS!

    Yes, crisis. He inherited this mess and its a crisis. Its all GWB’s fault and his overwhelming, unopposed, unanimous election to the exalted office of the President (it was unanimous, right? He won, right?) gives him an unimpeded mandate to completely reweave the fabric of our nation centered about the benevolence of the Federal Government.

    Crisis. Never waste one.

    Medicare and Medicaid are approaching insolvency. Crisis. Answer, more programs just like it that will also go insolvent.

    Global Warming (or Climate Change, if it is too cold where you are currently). Crisis! Cap and Trade must be passed or we will all surely die! Can’t wait! Can’t stop to read 300 pages added to the bill. No time! As Senator John Boehner said, its a “pile of shit”. (excuse me)

    Many have never been deluded by the aura of Barry Soetoro. He is nothing but a grown up version of those punks you knew in college that never bathed, wore Che tee shirts, smoked weed while pontificating upon the righteousness of the communist philosophy. They learned it from their professors, internalized it, then went out into the world not to get a job, start a company or other bourgeois pursuits, but to live off the fat of the government in order to organize the community against the very government that sustained them. Once they have overwhelmed the government’s ability to live up to its promises, they can use the pretense of the crisis they created to recast the government in the mold that they envision – something that the founding fathers never would approve of.


    Read it, understand it. Reflect upon what is being done right now in Washington. Tell others. Wake them up. There are so many minds that need to be changed before the 2010 election. We need to throw the bums out, starting with Congress. With a Republican majority (that is to say a majority that is opposed to the statist view of government, not necessarily Republican) we can blunt the further damage Obama can cause. Further, if he continues to walk the razor’s edge between legal and illegal he will eventually break the law. If he does (and I think he will) a Congress in the hands of the Republicans should remove him from office. This is not the small potatoes impeachment such as that of Clinton (perjury, severe as it is, did not call into question the patriotism of the man) but rather the necessity to oust a poseur, a fraud, a traitor. He will be unmasked eventually, I just hope and pray that it is not too late.

  24. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    turfmann, my estimate is that we will need at least 60% to offset the RINO, big-gov’t Republicans. Nothing approaching that has happened in any of our lifetimes.

    I think it would be interesting if America tried conservatism and the free market at least once. So far the best we have been able to hope for is limiting the damage from progressives.

  25. turfmann Says:

    AVI, I think that there is a certain number of members that will somehow escape being washed away in the midterms that will get religion after seeing what happens to some less fortunate of their brethren.

    Think of it this way, the R’s don’t have the numbers now to block anything from passage. However, their message is somehow getting through. Extrapolate that to a near or slight majority after 2010.

    (I can dream, can’t I?)

  26. Baklava Says:

    I agree with you AVI.

    We haven’t had a governing majority that I know of in my lifetime of conservatives.

    There always seems to be the Susan Collins or the Specter or the Snowe so willing to be incompetent and never learn economics 101.

  27. Pat Says:

    If Obama-care winds up anything like the MA Health program in MA, it is nothing but a pig in poke. Never having had the benefit of extra tax dollars, MA Health has always succumbed to a selective posture in payment of claims. In most cases, they don’t pay at all – ever.

    When the system hits bottom and there are no funds to pay with, doctors and hospitals will halt their requirement of having to treat people for whom no payment is available by insurance or otherwise, and America will wind up with health care insurance in name only the way everything is currently being run according to the privilege of LLC status and its disclosure of no liability.

    Without liability, can a company even exist and make contracts for which liability is assigned?

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