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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"Mass. Bashers Take Note: Health Reform is Working"

An editorial from the Boston Globe defends health care reform in Massachusetts against critics who are trying to use it as an example of what might go wrong with the reform at the national level: 

Mass. bashers take note: Health reform is working, Editorial, Boston Globe: Pundits and politicians who oppose universal healthcare for the nation have a new straw man to kick around - the Massachusetts reform plan that covers more than 97 percent of the state’s residents. In the myth that these critics have manufactured, this state’s plan is bleeding taxpayers dry, creating nothing less than a medical Big Dig.

The facts - according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation - are quite different. Its report this spring put the cost to the state taxpayer at about $88 million a year, less than four-tenths of 1 percent of the state budget of $27 billion. ... The main reason costs to the state have been well within expectations? More than half of all the previously uninsured got coverage by buying into their employers’ plans, not by opting for one of the state-subsidized plans.

This should be exciting news for those fiscal conservatives, including both Republicans and “blue dog’’ Democrats, who claim to support the goal of universal coverage while despairing over its budget impact. But that’s not what you hear from the Massachusetts bashers. Trying to scare off the nation from helping the uninsured get coverage, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said recently, “You don’t have to look any further than the universal healthcare mess in Massachusetts to see disaster ahead.’’ New York Times columnist Ross Douthat ... accused President Obama of “pushing a health plan that looks a lot like the system currently hemorrhaging money in Massachusetts.’’ ...

Whether out of ignorance or convenience,... bashers have it wrong. Unlike the Big Dig, health reform came in on time and under budget. It will be proportionately more expensive nationally to provide coverage for the uninsured than it has been here simply because the state began the task with a much lower rate of uninsured, 7 percent, compared with the US rate of 17 percent. But a national plan that relies, as Massachusetts’ does, on both government-subsidized insurance and a mandate on employers to offer insurance or pay a penalty ... should be able to cover nearly everyone without busting the budget. ...

    Posted by on Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 08:16 PM in Economics, Health Care | Permalink  Comments (50)


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