Mitt Romney is still defending the health care overhaul he signed into law as governor of Massachusetts. So are liberal defenders of ObamaCare, an overhaul explicitly modeled after the Bay State's law. These defenders have one key data point on their side: Insurance coverage in Massachusetts is now the highest in the nation, with about 95 percent of the state's residents covered. But they tend to omit the fact that the state's insurance coverage rates were already unusually high to begin with: About 90 percent of the state's population had health coverage prior to the law's passage.
Nor do they tell you about the burden the law has placed on the health care delivery system. Here's Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute writing at Forbes:
The Massachusetts Medical Society found that 56% of physicians are not taking on new patients. Wait times for appointments are climbing. Just two years after reform took root, one clinic in Western Massachusetts had amassed a waiting list of 1,600 patients.
RomneyCare expanded coverage simply by putting more people on the dole. Since 2006, 440,000 people have been added to state-funded insurance rolls. Medicaid enrollment alone is up nearly 25%, and Massachusetts is struggling to cover the cost.
Of the previously uninsured individuals who have signed up, 68% are receiving free or subsidized coverage.
…Despite the expansion of insurance coverage, people are continuing to seek routine medical care in expensive emergency rooms. Emergency room visits climbed 9%–or 3 million visits–between 2004 and 2008. The bill for uncompensated care has exceeded $400 million.
So insurance coverage has increased, but largely thanks to tax-funded subsidization. Yet that's created problems too: As more people got coverage, the system has struggled to keep up with increased demand for services. Uncompensated care, frequently cited as the justification for ObamaCare's mandate, has remained expensive as emergency rooms have been flooded. And we're not even getting into the cost overruns.
Watch Reason.tv's interview with Pipes about ObamaCare's failures: