Obamacare

The New York Times Defends RomneyCare

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Served with special cream and butter.

Proving once again that Mitt Romney's biggest (only?) fans are the same folks who continue to support ObamaCare (a slowly dwindling crowd), the editorial board at The New York Times steps up to defend RomneyCare:

Since reform was enacted, the state has achieved its goal of providing near-universal coverage: 98 percent of all residents were insured last year. That has come with minimal fiscal strain. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a nonpartisan fiscal monitoring group, estimated that the reforms cost the state $350 million in fiscal year 2010, a little more than 1 percent of the state budget.

If RomneyCare's cost isn't a budget problem, then how come the state began yet another round of discussions last week about how to control rising health care costs?

Oh right: Because the RAND corporation now says that the state's health costs are rising 8 percent faster than its GDP, because the program is projected to cost about $2 billion more than initially estimated over the next decade, and because state health insurance commissioners have warned that the cost problem is so great that the program's very existence is at stake. No worries, though, an anonymous writer at the New York Times editorial board says it's not a problem!

But what about health insurance premiums? Aren't they lower?

The average premiums paid by individuals who purchase unsubsidized insurance have dropped substantially, 20 percent to 40 percent by some estimates, mostly because reform has brought in younger and healthier people to offset the cost of covering the older and sicker.

This is true, but it conveniently omits two important factors. The first, as I've noted before, is that prior to RomneyCare, Massachusett's individual insurance premiums, were the highest in the nation, in large part because of strict community rating and guaranteed issue regulations that aren't in force in most states. Enforcing a mandate on a community-rated, must-issue health insurance pool—i.e. one in which insurers are required to sell policies to all comers and aren't allowed to price differently based on health history—is likely to bring down prices somewhat. But those effects aren't likely to be felt in the majority of states that hadn't implemented such regulations.

Meanwhile, adding individuals to the pool to the mandate merely managed to bring the state's individual health insurance premiums down from the most expensive in the country to the second-most expensive in the country. Following the passage of RomneyCare, family plan premiums were reported to be the highest in the nation, with double digit rises expected to continue. RomneyCare's role in pushing up premium prices? Economists at Stanford and Columbia University recently found that "health reform in Massachusetts increased single-coverage employer-sponsored insurance premiums by about 6 percent in aggregate, and by about 7 percent for firms with fewer than 50 employees." If cheap premiums are what you're looking for, RomneyCare doesn't seem to be the answer.

The Times editorial board doesn't even tell the whole truth when it eventually admits the law's cost control flaws:

What reform has not done is slow the rise in health care costs. Massachusetts put off addressing that until it had achieved universal coverage.

Now, it's true that the plan's wonky designers eventually decided that, in order to bring all the necessary constituencies on board, cost control would have to wait. As The New York Times reported in 2009, "the lawmakers and strategists behind the Massachusetts plan strongly defend their incremental approach. Only by deferring the big decisions on cost containment, they said in recent interviews, was it possible to build a consensus among doctors, hospitals, insurers, consumers, employers and workers for the requirement that all residents have health insurance."

But that's not what the state's political class promised up front while pushing the plan on the public. In early 2006, Mitt Romney himself declared that under his plan, "the costs of health care will be reduced." So RomneyCare was initially sold to voters as cost-control, only to later be revealed as a plan that intentionally deferred significant—and necessarily difficult—cost containment decisions. Saying now that cost-control was never a goal is an attempt to selectively rewrite history. Anyone want to take bets on how long it takes before a similar rewriting effort gets underway when ObamaCare results in similar, and similarly predictable, failures?

NEXT: What Brave Politician Will Speak for the 74 Percent of Americans Who Want a Federal Spending Cap?

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  1. mostly because reform has brought in younger and healthier people to offset the cost of covering the older and sicker.

    And that’s what really matters, because it’s more fairer!

    You cannot expect the people who actually receive a service to pay for it themselves.

    1. It’s a good thing those young healthy people do not turn old or move elsewhere in the United States. Oh wait…

      1. I am actually a young healthy person moving to there.

      2. If the state hadn’t been price-gouging the young while subsidizing the old in the first place the young would have already been buying insurance. If the state hadn’t been encouraging insurers to stop doing business in the state the opening of a new insurance policy in a new state with the same insurer that already knows you would be a simple process.

  2. BENDOVAH!

    1. Doktor Romney will check ze proztaten now~!

  3. Only by deferring the big decisions on cost containment, they said in recent interviews, was it possible to build a consensus among doctors, hospitals, insurers, consumers, employers and workers for the requirement that all residents have health insurance.

    It’s easier to ask forgiveness for failed cost control measures after you’re out of office than it is to get permission for eventual failed cost control measures while you still might have to get reelected/reappointed.

    1. Isn’t Romney’s consultancy career based on the principle that you are not only giving advice, but also stick around to see that businesses will correctly implement said advice? To not seek reelection while Romneycare was still being implemented is definitely not the “Bain way.”

    2. I will happily pay you Tuesday for some healthcare today.

  4. Anyone want to take bets on how long it takes before a similar rewriting effort gets underway when ObamaCare results in similar, and similarly predictable, failures?

    “We were always at war with Easthealthcare.”

  5. I cannot express how amazing that picture is.

  6. “Fudge: we’re packin’ it.”

    1. Mitt Romney: He’s about to touch your fudge.

  7. If we’ve said it once we’ve said it a hundred times: kick anybody who can’t pay their own way to the curb so that the rest of us have shorter lines for our botox shots.

    Everybody knows we need Libertarian “small government,” where the only job of the police is to beat down the weak so they don’t dare take what belongs to the strong.

    1. Super boring troll is super boring. Try harder.

      1. This from somebody who hasn’t seen the Romney glove shot before. Guess what: they also have one of Obama putting on a bib. Wait, oh, about 10 minutes and they’ll use it again.

        1. Fuck, you’re lame. Your insults are like being punched by a baby. A retarded baby. Even with your tard strength, it’s like a wet noodle. You’ve officially bored me beyond belief.

          1. Such powerful rebuttals. Truly, you have the utmost confidence in your ideas. Which you express by calling people you disagree with “retarded.” Yes, the surest indicator of a real thinker.

            1. Please don’t feed the troll.

              1. Ah, yes.

                No Reason comment thread is complete until the self-appointed “troll police” make their appearance.

                Did you buy yourself a little plastic badge at Toys-R-Us?

                1. Yell louder, Danny. You’re all dim and gray.

                  1. @Sugarfree LOL! RUN TO THE LIGHT, DANNY! RUN TO THE LIGHT!

                    1. I’d prefer “GO INTO THE LIGHT, DANNY-ANN!”, Almanian.

                    2. You mean “die”?

                      You are wishing immediate death upon me?

                      That’s how you respond to a post you don’t like? By telling some one they should die?

                      Why don’t you at least have the courage of your pathology, and say plainly that you wish that I was dead?

                    3. Nope, still not yelling loud enough.

                    4. Actually, “fist” has a point.

                      http://tinyurl.com/3wqbqaa

        2. Guess what: they also have one of Obama putting on a bib.

          We understand the glove reference…I’m not sure I want to contemplate the bib reference as it pertains to the health care issue.

          1. I tried to warn you…

  8. Wow, Danny, that’s perfect.

    You were the Teen United Nation’s stenographer, weren’t you?

  9. Imagine that apostrophe leapfrogging over the “s” please.

    1. Let’s not judge each other on apostrophe placement. There is more important stuff.

      1. Let he who’s without sin cast the first stone.

        1. Or Cos and Tan.

        2. GODDAMNIT, MOM! PUT DOWN THAT ROCK!

          1. I said he.

    2. “s’tenographer”…wait, what?

  10. Since reform was enacted, the state has achieved its goal of providing near-universal coverage: 98 percent of all residents were insured last year. That has come with minimal fiscal strain

    Paulopolis did the same thing. The king of Paulopolis decreed that 100% of all residents of Paulopolis shalt be covered, forever and ever, amen.

    The cost of that decree against my annual budget was $0.

    Providing coverage has been slightly more difficult. Currently, the waiting list for care is ? as we haven’t yet built our first healthcare facility. Costs are yet to be determined.

    1. So RomneyCare was initially sold to voters as cost-control, only to later be revealed as a plan that intentionally deferred significant?and necessarily difficult?cost containment decisions.

      Paulopolis did the same thing. First issue coverage. Figure out the cost of actually providing healthcare later.

  11. “Forseeable consequences are not unintended.”

    *looks around for RC Dean*

  12. “Since reform was enacted, the state has achieved its goal of providing near-universal coverage: 98 percent of all residents were insured last year.”

    Bullshit. The state has not “provided” anything.

    It has put a gun to the heads of everyone and forced them to pay thousands a month, in exchange for which people now wait several months to secure basic medical attention.

  13. I’m sure there are stacks of studies showing an actual improvement in “health care outcomes” in Massachusetts to buttress the Times’ implied claim that more insurance somehow magically leads to better health, right?

    RIGHT?

  14. Single payer legal care, with prices set by government.

    Because no lawyer does anything worth more than minimum wage.

  15. I have to say, that is a fantastic picture of a politician.

    1. is there going to be an IPO on your road corporation?

      1. I don’t imagine he will offer an IPO, but think of the money we could make selling “random AK-47 execution” insurance to cover his workers!

        For a slight upcharge, I’ll include a premium option that also covers “random pick-up truck with a machine-gun mounted in the bed execution”.

  16. Any fiscal conservative who thinks Romney can defeat Obama is wishing and hoping. If Obama is to be a one term president, as I hope he will be, a genuine fiscal conservative (who stays away from emphasizing trivial cultural war issues) is the only chance to send BHO back to Chicago, Hawaii, and/or Indonesia.

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