In a move certain to make both the socialists and the fascists content, mandatory health insurance is almost the law in Massachusetts. That’s right, you have to pay for it whether you want it or not. Even if you can’t afford it. The House approved the bill on a 154-2 vote and the Senate was unanamous with a vote of 37-0. Governor Romney intends to sign the bill. As they’ll be providing lower than market value insurance to some people, the rest will have to pick up the tab with increased premiums and taxation.
The Boston Globe is already critical of the plan. Here’s some snapshots from three of their writers. Liz Kowalczyk gets the red quotes, Joan Vennochi gets the green and Scott Helman gets the blue ones.
The first-of-its-kind healthcare plan passed by the Legislature provides Governor Mitt Romney valuable political capital, but it is also fraught with potential perils as he aims to make the top tier of Republican presidential contenders.
Romney is facing criticism from some conservatives that the bill he helped engineer would expand government and impose a new financial burden on businesses. The plan has already come under attack from the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., the op-ed columns of the Wall Street Journal, antitax activists such as Grover Norquist, and MSNBC pundit Tucker Carlson.
MASSACHUSETTS POLITICIANS just built the healthcare McMansion of their dreams. Now, where do they get the money to underwrite the mortgage?
Like many a thrilled new homeowner, they’re not sure.
Uninsured residents with incomes over 300 percent of the poverty level, about 200,000 people, will be on their own to pay the full cost.
A major question is whether this group will be able to afford coverage. ”That is unknown,” said John McDonough, executive director of Health Care for All, an advocacy group based in Boston. ”We’re still waiting for someone to show us what a plan would look like. Show us the money.”
In the legislation, lawmakers did not allow for very-high-deductible plans or for plans that drastically limit benefits such as mental health care and infertility treatments, approaches that would have cut premiums further.
At the same time, they hope there is enough money to cover commitments made in this sweeping healthcare package — especially the commitment to extend health insurance coverage to 95 percent of the population within three years.
But to some degree, the foundation for this plan is a mixture of euphoria and hope. And that’s not enough.
”If Massachusetts is the national leader in setting up a new healthcare model, we have an extra-special responsibility to be sure that what we legislate will stand the test of financial scrutiny,” said Ellen Lutch Bender, a longtime healthcare analyst.
Even some unabashed supporters of the package have their doubts:
”This is cutting-edge conceptual healthcare policy,” said Democratic state Representative Harriett L. Stanley of West Newbury, a member of the legislative healthcare financing committee who voted for the measure. ”But we don’t yet know what it’s really going to cost us or where we’re going to get the money from. To some extent you might call it a Hail Mary pass.”
Romney, who considers the healthcare initiative one of his major accomplishments as governor, is sensitive to such criticism and has been careful to couch the bill in Republican-friendly terms. He made sure at a Monday press conference to say the plan was ”market-based” and endorsed ”personal responsibility.” […]
Julie Teer, political director for Romney’s political action committee, said in an e-mail: ”The governor took a Democrat ideal — getting everyone health insurance — and applied conservative Republican free-market principles to achieving it.”
On his blog, which provides daily, informative analysis of the ups and downs of the healthcare bill, McDonough lists these concerns:
”The level of employer responsibility is minimal and does not come close to the cost borne by employers who do cover their workers; the bill leaves in place the unfair $160 million assessment on employers who do cover their workers; the individual mandate does not define clear affordability for when workers would be penalized. This will be a vitally important standard moving forward.”
As Judith Meredith, another healthcare advocate who celebrated passage of the legislation, said: ”The funding part worries us all.”
The cost of extending health insurance coverage to an additional 515,000 people will be shared by business, individuals, and the government.
Whatever happened to the simple concept of true free market healthcare, where the consumer voluntarily pays the heathcare provider simple cash for the services or products received?