If you really feel strong enough this morning to face the brave new healthcare of the future, you can do no better than taking a look at the healthcare plan already in place in Massachusetts, the very system the president said is “essentially identical” to the one we saw voted in 100 days ago.
I’m afraid it might make you feel sick.
Editorial writer Joseph Rago reports in today’s Wall Street Journal:
As events are now unfolding, the Massachusetts plan couldn’t be a more damning indictment of ObamaCare. The state’s universal health-care prototype is growing more dysfunctional by the day, which is the inevitable result of a health system dominated by politics.
The plan has run up against “economic realities.” The key economic reality: The insurance carriers can’t afford to cover their claims, and the state’s only solution is to impose caps. This means that the state is essentially telling the carriers to provide services they can’t provide or else. This means further that the companies probably won’t remain solvent for very long. Rago notes:
[T]he five major state insurers have so far collectively lost $116 million due to the rate cap. Three of them are now under administrative oversight because of concerns about their financial viability. Perhaps [Governor Deval] Patrick felt he could be so reckless because health-care demagoguery is the strategy for his fall re-election bid against a former insurance CEO.
The deeper problem is that price controls seem to be the only way the political class can salvage a program that was supposed to reduce spending and manifestly has not. Massachusetts now has the highest average premiums in the nation.
The Massachusetts plan was an “entitlement sold as a way to reduce costs,” and if this sounds all too familiar to you, it should. That’s how the national plan was sold, too. It was sold to us under false premises:
“If you’re going to do health-care cost containment, it has to be stealth,” said Jon Kingsdale, speaking at a conference sponsored by the New Republic magazine last October. “It has to be unsuspected by any of the key players to actually have an effect.” Mr. Kingsdale is the former director of the Massachusetts “connector,” the beta version of ObamaCare’s insurance “exchanges,” and is now widely expected to serve as an ObamaCare regulator.
He went on to explain that universal coverage was “fundamentally a political strategy question”-a way of finding a “significant systematic way of pushing back on the health-care system and saying, ‘No, you have to do with less.’ And that’s the challenge, how to do it. It’s like we’re waiting for a chain reaction but there’s no catalyst, there’s nothing to start it.”
In other words, health reform was a classic bait and switch: Sell a virtually unrepealable entitlement on utterly unrealistic premises and then the political class will eventually be forced to control spending.
The problem is that you can’t just mandate spending caps and expect insurance companies to survive. The caps solution, the only one available, may work in a fairytale world, but only in such an imaginary world will imaginary solutions be fruitful.
Feeling sick yet?