Thursday, January 31, 2008

Colorado Springs Gazette on 208 Commission

The Colorado Springs Gazette has just printed a strong editorial against the forthcoming recommendations of the 208 Commission in its January 31, 2008 edition. Their analysis is on the second half of the webpage:
Health care reform: It's a joke

One of the worst ideas ever proposed with a straight face will come before the Colorado Legislature today. The state's Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform wants a law to force every Coloradan to buy health insurance. It’s like solving homelessness with a law that says every person must buy a house.

Subsidies to the poor and other costs would amount to $1.1 billion out of the gate, and the commission has no plan to pay for it. The law would extend insurance coverage to nearly 800,000 people who don't have it now. Yet commission members, in a meeting with The Gazette's editorial board, said the state already faces a worsening doctor shortage, even without a mandated increase in demand for services. Creating more demand, without a means to increase services, can mean only two things: soaring costs and rationing.

Based on the commission's own findings, 25 percent of the state's uninsured have incomes of $50,000 or more, 13 percent earn $75,000 or more, and 6.4 percent earn six figures and up. That means thousands have simply chosen pay-as-you-go health care, or have decided to avoid plans that cost more than they're worth. They've exercised their rights as American consumers to not buy something.

The commission claims that insured families pay a "hidden tax" of $934 to cover the uninsured. An economist on the health care commission, however, says the figure is grossly inflated from about $84 because it doesn't account for care that's paid out of pocket, through private philanthropy, or with Veterans Administration or workers compensation payments.

But here's the most troubling part. Commissioners can't say their program would reduce the fictional $934 burden, and admit that it could actually increase under their plan. No thanks. It makes the current system — in which the uninsured are at no loss for care — look pretty darn good.

The proposal, which commissioners refer to as an untried "pioneer" idea, can't possibly work. It makes no sense, to commission members or anyone else. We hope it's DOA in the Legislature today. May it rest in peace.
The 208 Commission's plan is hardly "untried". A similar plan in Massachusetts is already costing over 3 times what was originally estimated, yet is expected to "cut payments to doctors and hospitals, reduce choices for patients, and possibly increase how much patients have to pay."

California's state legislature has already rejected a similar plan based on "individual mandates" because it cost too much.

Colorado does not need to replicate the failures of other states.