I'm sure readers will recall Obama's stock phrases about Democrat's health care reform plans: lower cost, choice and competition, you can keep your plan, yada, yada, yada!
Reality, as observed in the Massachusetts model, is quite different.
Massachusetts' Obama-like Reforms Increase Health Costs, Wait TimesWhen Obama repeats his big lies about lowering costs and not affecting choice or quality of care in his speech on Tuesday night, be armed with THE TRUTH of what government takeover of health care means!
By Michael Cannon
Real Clear Politics
September 5, 2009
If you are curious about how President Barack Obama's health plan would affect your health care, look no farther than Massachusetts. In 2006, the Bay State enacted a slate of reforms that almost perfectly mirror the plan of Obama and congressional Democrats.
Those reforms reveal that the Obama plan would mean higher health insurance premiums for millions, would reduce choice by eliminating both low-cost and comprehensive health plans, would encourage insurers to avoid the sick and would reduce the quality of care.
Massachusetts reduced its uninsured population by two-thirds -- yet the cost would be considered staggering, had state officials not done such a good job of hiding it. Finally, Massachusetts shows where "ObamaCare" would ultimately lead: Officials are already laying the groundwork for government rationing.
The most sweeping provision in the Massachusetts reforms -- and the legislation before Congress -- is an "individual mandate" that makes health insurance compulsory. Massachusetts shows that such a mandate would oust millions from their low-cost health plans and force them to pay higher premiums.
The necessity of specifying what satisfies the mandate gives politicians enormous power to dictate the content of every American's health plan -- a power that health care providers inevitably capture and use to increase the required level of insurance.
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.
Those requirements can increase premiums by 14 percent or more. Officials further increased premiums by imposing new limits on cost-sharing.
"The effect," writes the Boston Globe, "has been to provide more comprehensive insurance than in most other states but also to raise costs." Premiums are growing 21 to 46 percent faster than the national average, in part because Massachusetts' individual mandate has effectively outlawed affordable health plans.
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.
Voters who believe the Massachusetts law reduced the quality of care outnumber those who believe it helped by nearly 3-to-1 (29 percent to 10 percent).
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.
The Legislature also plans to leverage its power under the individual mandate to require "evidence-based purchasing strategies," which is another way of saying government bureaucrats may soon be deciding who gets medical care and who does not.
When former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin whipped people into a frenzy over "death panels," she was warning not only against a proposal for end-of-life counseling but plans that would make it easier for Medicare to use its existing power to try to ration care to the elderly and disabled.
Massachusetts shows that Obama's individual mandate would expand federal power by enabling it to ration care to patients under age 65.