Olympia Business Watch, August 13, 2008
Washington lawmakers need to take a real close look at what is happening in Massachusetts on health care. With the cost over runs for the “Connector”, Massachusetts businesses are joining a national coalition to slow premium growth and ease the financial burden on employers. In Maine, citizens fed up with the cost overruns from the state’s Dirigo Care gathered enough signatures to repeal the new taxes to prop up the state system.
There is a warning for Washington from this new coalition. Employers were overwhelmed in Massachusetts by Romney Care–the nickname for the new state-run “Connector” program. While health care experts praise the new coalition, some feel it may be too late to change course, claims John R. Graham, director of health care at the Pacific Research Insitute. The government foot-hold is implanted. Devon Herrick, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, agreed, saying Massachusetts’s current government-based plan is “destined to fail, because it has no cost control whatsoever.”
Spending more on health care isn’t the answer either. “Many U.S. residents wrongly equate higher spending with better care,” said Charles Baker, CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Massachusetts’s second-largest health insurer. “The notion that the more you spend the better you are in health care is a giant urban myth.”
“The answer is allowing consumers to choose a consumer-driven plan that meets their needs is better than forcing people into expensive plans with low cost-sharing, which the Commonwealth Connector Board favors, said Herrick, referring to the organization responsible for overseeing Massachusetts’s government-based health insurance program.
Consumers and markets are responsible for meaningful and lasting change, not mandates and bigger government programs.
Don C. Brunell, President ([email protected])