Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Disaster Brewing on Healthcare

Another disaster is brewing as Obama seems to be winning the public perception battle regarding government-supplied healthcare. This is despite all the warnings about the failure of similar systems in places like Canada and England, and the absolute certainty that government healthcare will raise costs, and quickly lead to shortages of doctors and procedures, rationing and denials of treatments to certain patients. All this can be predicted, but Americans are not paying close attention.

Now we also have the model of the failure of the Massachusetts experiment in a government-mandated heathcare system to observe. Will it make any difference?

Massachusetts Miracle or Massachusetts Miserable: What the Failure of the "Massachusetts Model" Tells Us about Health Care Reform

Published on June 9, 2009 by Michael D. Tanner

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and coauthor of Healthy Competition: What's Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It (2007).

• Although the state has reduced the number of residents without health insurance, 200,000 people remain uninsured. Moreover, the increase in the number of insured is primarily due to the state's generous subsidies, not the celebrated individual mandate.

• Health care costs continue to rise much faster than the national average. 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.
• New regulations and bureaucracy are limiting consumer choice and adding to health care costs.

• Program costs have skyrocketed. Despite tax increases, the program faces huge deficits. The state is considering caps on insurance premiums, cuts in reimbursements to providers, and even the possibility of a "global budget" on health care spending—with its attendant rationing.

• A shortage of providers, combined with increased demand, is increasing waiting times to see a physician.

With the "Massachusetts model" frequently cited as a blueprint for health care reform, it is important to recognize that giving the government greater control over our health care system will have grave consequences for taxpayers, providers, and health care consumers. That is the lesson of the Massachusetts model.

Older Americans should also take note of the many statements coming from Obama Administration members that Obamacare will largely be paid for by reducing and rationing health services and procedures to seniors on Medicare and on Medicaid. Tell your senior friends to let Congress know that we will not stand for this!


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