Massachusetts Health Reform: Can the Last Smoker Cover the Last Uninsured Bay Stater?

The Boston Globe ran a story about the 2nd anniversary of former Governor Romney’s signing Chapter 58, the landmark Massachusetts health “reform”, which resulted in a joint individual and employer mandate to purchase insurance. According to the Globe, it’s still a “work in progress.”

What “progress” remains to be done? Oh yeah: Hike the tax on smokers! The Mass. health system’s costs are spiraling out of control so fast that legislators have resorted to proposing another hike in the cigarette tax to raise $154 million of a budget of $869 million proposed by Governor Patrick. Recall that the proposed tobacco tax alone is actually one fifth higher than the public funds originally anticipated for the entire program’s first year, which was $125 million, as reported by legislative committee in April 2006.

Despite now costing taxpayers almost seven times the amount originally budgeted, the reform has failed to “cover the uninsured”. Indeed, residents who are heavily subsidized are signing up, but those who have to pay full freight are dodging the mandate. Indeed, the Boston Globe reminds us that the state does not even know how many uninsured residents it has, but it thinks about half a million.

Most infants come out of the “terrible twos” pretty well adjusted. I doubt the Massachusetts health reform will mature in the same fashion.

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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