Massachusetts’ Health Care Reform: Be Careful What You Wish For – Pacific Research Institute

Massachusetts’ Health Care Reform: Be Careful What You Wish For

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed a first in the nation “universal” health care bill in 2006. Massachusetts’ health care plan includes an “individual mandate” and generous subsidies through a quasi-government health insurance plan known as “Commonwealth Care.” So how well are the Democrats in Massachusetts doing at controlling health care costs?

This morning the Boston Globe reported that: “Overseers of Massachusetts’ trailblazing healthcare program made their first cuts yesterday, trimming $115 million, or 12 percent, from Commonwealth Care, which subsidizes premiums for needy residents and is the centerpiece of the 2006 law.” The overseers also “eliminated dental coverage for the poorest residents enrolled in Commonwealth Care, roughly 92,000 people.” In other words, Massachusetts has begun to deny health care for their residents.

Moreover, Massachusetts’ universal health care plan has not reduced costs or eased the burden of health care spending on the state’s budget. According to a recent Cato Institute study, “Since 2006, total state health care spending has increased by 28 percent. Insurance premiums have increased by 8-10 percent per year, nearly double the national average.” The study also noted that: “the increase in the number of insured is primarily due to the state’s generous subsidies, not the celebrated individual mandate.”

Even the state’s treasurer, Timothy Cahill (D), said that the Massachusetts plan shouldn’t be a national model: “It’s a warning for the federal government as it looks to do something similar…I’m not saying we can’t afford any of it, but it certainly doesn’t appear that we can afford all of it.”

Out of control costs have not been the only causality of universal coverage. Rationing appears to be creeping into the health care system in Massachusetts, as Sally Pipes noted recently in the New York Post:

20 percent of residents are having trouble securing a doctor. The Health Safety Net fund, which pays hospitals to care for the uninsured, still spent $410 million in 2008. Most startlingly, to control costs, the state is considering ‘payment reform’ that resembles a giant HMO. Price controls and explicit rationing will surely follow.

Massachusetts’ experience confirms what House Republicans have been arguing: a government-run health plan puts bureaucrats between patients and doctors and lets pencil-pushers decide what medical procedures or prescription drugs the government will allow its citizens to use. Massachusetts, with its exploding health care costs, is already starting to ration care – and Democrats in Washington want to take the Massachusetts plan and expand on it by imposing a “public option” on all Americans, which will force millions of Americans into government-run health care.

Yesterday, House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) rejected the Democrats’ march towards government-run health care:

Today the President again claimed that the Democrats’ government takeover of health care would not force Americans off of their current plans, yet independent analysts have reported that at least 23 million Americans would lose their coverage under the bill drafted by Senate Democrats.

House Republicans have a better solution: a plan that ensures all Americans who like their health care coverage can actually keep it. For information on the House GOP health care reform proposal, visit the House GOP Health Care Solutions Group website HERE.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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