Thursday, November 12, 2009

Maine Still In Trouble

Maine's attempt at universal health care gets less media coverage than Massachusetts'. However, the November 10, 2009 New York Times reports that it's still in trouble.

Here's an excerpt from their article, "Maine Finds a Health Care Fix Elusive":
Maine is the Charlie Brown of health care. The state's legislators have tried for decades to fix its system, but their efforts have always fallen short: health insurance premiums are still among the least affordable in the nation, health care spending per person is among the highest and hospital emergency rooms are among the most crowded. Indeed, many overhauls to the system have done little more than squeeze a balloon -- solving one problem while worsening another.

...Maine's history is a cautionary tale for national health reform. The state could never figure out how to slow the spiraling increase in medical costs, hobbling its efforts to offer more people insurance coverage. Many on Capitol Hill have criticized national reform legislation for similarly doing little to tame costs.
(Read the full text of "Maine Finds a Health Care Fix Elusive".)

Although the details differ from Massachusetts, the problems are very similar. Despite massive government regulations, costs continue to rise, patients continue to have a hard time getting access to care, and doctors are getting squeezed by low reimbursement. In other words, their statist policies are making things worse, not better.

Will the rest of the country learn from Maine's experience, or will we adopt those same failed policies at the national level?