January 31, 2008

WSJ Op-Ed: RomneyCare Is Life-Threatening CoerciveCare

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:52 pm

John McCain has gotten a lot of heat over McCain-Feingold, all totally deserved. Forcing advocacy groups to go silent over the airwaves in the last 30-60 days before an election is an unconscionable and unconstitutional restriction of the First Amendment.

(Sidebar: Those arguing passionately about constitutions need to understand why Mitt Romney is Objectively Unfit, and comment on his extra-constitutional and unilateral imposition of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, before getting too huffy about McCain’s serious breach.)

But if we’re going to talk about force, let’s look at Massachusetts, the Cradle of Liberty, and see what Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney’s RomneyCare is forcing onto its residents.

No, RomneyCare isn’t about ending free speech. It may end up being about prematurely ending lives.

You doubt? Grasp the full impact of what Shikha Dalmia says in his Wall Street Journal op-ed today (HT Gregg at Pundit Review).

First, the coercion, thanks to out-of-control costs (bolds are mine throughout):

Massachusetts uses a sliding income scale to subsidize coverage for everyone up to 300% of the poverty level — or a family of four making around $60,000. Everyone over that limit is required to pay for their own coverage if their employers don’t provide it. All this has inflated demand, which, combined with onerous regulations on insurance suppliers, has triggered premium increases of 12% for this year — double last year’s national average.

No one is escaping the financial sting. The state health-care bill for fiscal 2008-2009 is expected to touch $400 million — 85% more than originally projected. Still the state won’t be able to fully shield those it subsidizes from the premium increases. But uninsured folks who don’t qualify for government help really get pounded. Before the hike, the cheapest plan for uninsured couples in their 50s cost $8,200 annually. Now, unless government bureaucrats hand them an exemption, they might well find it cheaper to pay the penalty — up to half the price of a standard policy — than purchase insurance. That is, pay to remain uninsured. This is legalized extortion: TonySopranoCare.

Now to the life-threatening part:

….. the Connector is encouraging insurance companies to include only a limited network of cheaper physicians and facilities in some plans to hold down premiums. Patients who wish to see more expensive providers will have to dig into their own pockets. Dr. Steffie Wollhandler, a professor of medicine at Harvard University, worries that the Connector will revive Gov. Romney’s original idea of enrolling poor people in plans that only offer access to neighborhood health centers ill-equipped to treat anything beyond routine ailments. Forcing people to buy substandard care they cannot afford is not universal care, she says. “It is a hoax.” And so Massachusetts is marching toward a system of two-tiered medicine — the alleged market inequity that universal care is supposed to cure.

I can already hear the single-payer enthusiasts bleating that we have a two-tiered healthcare system today. That is incorrect — though have a two-tiered insurance system, no one who needs it is denied care. That’s the law.

So RomneyCare is already “encouraging” the rationing of care. Even worse, it is well on its way to institutionalizing two-tiered access to medical care. Poor people who have to go to “neighborhood health centers ill-equipped to treat anything beyond routine ailments” are more likely to suffer negative consequences, up to and including dying, if they have a condition that is “beyond routine.”

Just what the country needs. (/sarc)

Dalmia goes on to the column’s punch line:

The problems with RomneyCare have prompted Mr. Romney himself to abandon it.


Uh, Mitt ….. your talk-radio and pundit buds can gloss over this all they want, but you don’t have the option of abandoning your RomneyCare handiwork, because …..

You’re responsible for it.

Has anyone heard Romney make a suggestion to current Bay State governor Deval Patrick on how to fix the mess he (Romney) created? RomneyCare doesn’t morph into PatrickCare just because he wants it to.

Can anyone remember a politician attempting such a monumental “never mind,” and still expecting voters to reward him with the presidency?

Of course, it’s not like Romney hasn’t said “never mind” quite a few times already. These are just the most obvious:
- Abortion.
- Second Amendment rights (as a “lifelong hunter“).
- Tax cuts.
- Immigration.
- Opposition to same-sex marriage, when he imposed it himself in Massachusetts.

But the RomneyCare whopper is different, because it was seen at the time as his signature accomplishment.

Some “accomplishment” — besides the obvious problems with RomneyCare itself, look at the Romney Administration’s other side effects:

  • A stagnant population — per the Census Bureau (downloadable Excel sheet at link), up only 0.17% in the four years ended June 30, 2007 (you have to wonder how many freeloaders have come in, and how many productive folks have left, in effect voting with their feet in response to RomneyCare).
  • Weak employment growth while he was in charge.
  • A demoralized state Republican Party holding fewer legislative seats.

You’ve got to hand it to the Mittster — he’s probably the only GOP opponent on earth with the capability of sending some conservatives who fully understand his record fleeing in fright into John McCain’s arms. The rest? I’d say they’re heading for the exits. Many aren’t coming back.



  1. FYI: All health care systems ration, the difference being by what. I may have mentioned this before: There are 5 domains to health care access – affordability, availability, accommodation, accessibility, and acceptability.

    The U.S. system rations by affordability, but the European/Canadian model ration by availability (how many), accessibility (location), and accommodation (flexibility). [I'll stipulate that acceptability - how nice people are - may be equal.]

    Basically, what we are paying extra for is that which Eur/Can ration. We also have three other major high-cost disadvantages: 1) oppressive state and federal regulations; 2) defensive medicine; and 3) the rest of the world basically piggybacking on our R&D without reimbursement (sorta like our military).

    We have to decide how much we are willing to do without in order to have “universal coverage” – quality being the big thing. In order to have a single-payer system (SPS), or even a modified SPS like Canada, our entire regulatory system, economy, and culture will need to be re-engineered. It would be alot easier – and cheaper – to fix the problems with what we have now – most of which are caused by the government.

    Universal health care is political and cultural, not medical and economic. Why would anyone expect Washington to produce a better, cheaper result with a 200 year history of producing most everything worse and more expensive, except for the military.

    Comment by Joe C. — January 31, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

  2. Exactly, we shouldn’t mess with system that delivers the best medical care in the world. We should address some individual issues that make basic medical care costly.
    1. Three tiered rate structure charged to users of the system, it must be ended, no more false discounts and forcing subsidization of PC users of the systems.
    2. Get rid of the 12 million illegals who use our system for free making the rest of us pay when they skate on the bill.
    3. Tort reform – there is a place for lawyers to seek compensation for “bonifide” injury from malpractice, there needs to be a means to screen out those who play the lottery, like in the obstetrics area.

    Comment by dscott — February 1, 2008 @ 9:33 am

  3. Just a little of my two cents. Do you remember how Teddy Kennedy wailed about the rip-off’s that those HMO’s were? That is because most people are too young to remember that the HMO program was HIS! 1964. That is when we started having these problems. Then, of course, came along the John Edwards’ types, and malpractice insurance kept some doctors from practicing when they graduated leaving a very high unpaid student loan…need I go on to show the effect of how government regulation/intervion/tyranny effects every part of our economy? Didn’t think so.

    Great article, Tom. Gregg was correct. You’re the tops. ;)

    Comment by Rosemary — February 3, 2008 @ 12:35 pm

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