Friday, September 4, 2009

How's That Massachusetts Plan Working Out?

In the August 27, 2009 Detroit News, Michael Cannon gives us the most recent update from Massachusetts. It's not a pretty picture.

Here are some excerpts from, "Massachusetts' Obama-like reforms increase health costs, wait times":
In the three years since Massachusetts enacted its individual mandate, providers successfully lobbied to require 16 specific types of coverage under the mandate: prescription drugs, preventive care, diabetes self-management, drug-abuse treatment, early intervention for autism, hospice care, hormone replacement therapy, non-in-vitro fertility services, orthotics, prosthetics, telemedicine, testicular cancer, lay midwives, nurses, nurse practitioners and pediatric specialists.

The Massachusetts Legislature is considering more than 70 additional requirements.

...As goes choice, so goes quality. Statistics on waiting times for specialist care in Massachusetts read like a dispatch from Canada. In 2004, Boston already had the longest waits among metropolitan areas. By 2009, waits had generally shortened in other metro areas (average wait: less than three weeks) but lengthened in Boston (average wait: seven weeks), according to the Merritt Hawkins survey.

...Nevertheless, those costs are appearing in higher taxes and health insurance premiums. State officials have raised taxes on tobacco, hospitals, insurers and employers, as well as eliminated coverage for many legal immigrants just to scrape up their 20 percent share of the cost. They are also showing the nation where ObamaCare would ultimately lead: government-imposed rationing.

To cope with the cost of its reforms, Massachusetts created a legislative commission that has recommended moving the entire market to a single, Canadian-style payment system that would encourage doctors and hospitals to ration care.
(Read the full text of "Massachusetts' Obama-like reforms increase health costs, wait times".)

The trends I discussed a year ago in my article "Mandatory Health Insurance: Wrong for Massachusetts, Wrong for America" (The Objective Standard, Fall 2008), are unfortunately accelerating. Yet this is the precisely the model that many are proposing that we adopt at the national level.

Will America learn from the Massachusetts Mistake?