Massachusetts Universal Healthcare System Breaking Down Already


By: Warner Todd Huston

When Governor Mitt Romney instituted a universal healthcare plan for Massachusetts in 2006 he proclaimed it a conservative idea. “It’s a conservative idea insisting that individuals have responsibility for their own health care,” he said. “I think it appeals to people on both sides of the aisle: insurance for everyone without a tax increase.” The plan passed and was put into practice. But has it worked? Has it been successful?

For a time, many thought it might but cracks in the system are already being seen. These cracks are instructive as a lesson on how Obamacare will crash and burn just like Romneycare is now in the process of doing.

One of the early claims that helped push Romneycare through to law was the insistence by its supporters that Emergency Room visits would fall as more and more citizens became covered under healthcare insurance. Since ER care is far more expensive than a doctor’s care, it was thought that more people with insurance would ease the overcrowding of ERs as well as lower the overall costs of healthcare.

However, a flaw in this logic has been seen throughout the state. As more people became insured, more people demanded the care of doctors. These doctors became overloaded with patients and waiting lists for doctors got longer and longer. As a result, ERs in Massachusetts have not seen a downturn in visits. On the contrary, it seems that ER visits are actually on the upswing in the Bay State. In fact, in 2007 they were higher than the national average by 20 percent.

Then there is another problem unaccounted for by the politicians. You see these citizens newly covered were given no reason to worry that the costs at an Emergency Room are higher than just waiting for their doctors to have room on their schedules to see them. So, off to the ER they went. After all, it’s covered!

Additionally, after initial gains in “reducing care barriers and boosting affordability,” the system is showing signs of reverses in areas that were thought to have been “fixed” by Romneycare.

The percentage of non-elderly adults that claimed they were not getting the care they want initially dipped but as of June of 2009 that success has been reversed back to 2007 levels. The reason? Not enough doctors for the increased demand.

The recent uptick in access issues may be due to increased demand for follow-up care from the newly insured that is not being matched by available doctors, according to the article’s authors. Most of those surveyed who reported problems said they were told by physicians they were not accepting new patients or patients with their type of coverage.

The simple fact of the matter is that there are only so many doctors and they are beginning to be so overloaded that they cannot or will not see new patients.

The same report also shows that some gains in affordability have eroded.

And then the recession hit the state’s tax receipts causing the state to reduce its expenditures to its healthcare plan by $100 million. And guess who was hardest hit? The poorest residents, exactly the sort of people that universal healthcare is supposed to help.

And what has the state started doing to “fix” this latest problem? Price controls, a strategy that has never worked every time it has been tried. And they are considering price controls because costs are skyrocketing.

They’re trying to manage the huge costs of the subsidized middle-class insurance program that is gradually swallowing the state budget. The program provides low- or no-cost coverage to about 165,000 residents, or three-fifths of the newly insured, and is budgeted at $880 million for 2010, a 7.3% single-year increase that is likely to be optimistic. The state’s overall costs on health programs have increased by 42% (!) since 2006.

Simply put the politicians never came clean with the people of Massachusetts about the costs of the plan. All sorts of rosy scenarios were drawn and everyone smiled and backslapped to get these unfunded mandates passed. But now reality is setting in and the system is crashing down around them.

This is the fate of Obamacare on the national level.

but what do the people of Massachusetts think of Romneycare? Do they like it? After all, it is they that are forced to foot the bill and they who will elect more politicians to either kill or continue the plan.

According to the Rasmussen polling service, only 26 percent of Bay Staters think Romneycare is a success. Worse, only 10 percent think that their care has improved while a hefty 53 percent say they’ve seen no change in their own healthcare.

Even on a partisan divide, the plan is not very popular. 49 percent of Democrats in Massachusetts aren’t sure if the program is a success. If even partisan party members can’t go for it in a big way that says an awful lot about how bad about this plan.

The universal plan in Massachusetts is an obvious budget busting failure. Obamacare will be worse.

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