Supporters of Governor Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan scoffed when I warned that it “opens the door to widespread regulation of the health care industry and political interference in personal health care decisions. The result will be a slow but steady spiral downward toward a government-run, national health care system.” Recent events, alas, suggest that I was right.
When the plan was passed I said, “special interests representing various health care providers and disease constituencies can certainly be expected to lobby for the inclusion of additional services or coverage under any mandated benefits package.” Now it appears that my only mistake was in not realizing just how fast the special interests would move. Already the state has been forced to delay implementation of some aspects of the plan because of a bitter battle over issues such as whether dental benefits should be included in the basic plan that residents must buy.
Fortunately, however, members of the State Health Care Connector, which is designing the plans, say that the legislature didn’t really mean it when it passed a law setting the deadline. Of course, one might wonder what other aspects of the law they will feel free to ignore.
And, now the Boston Globe reports that Christian Scientists are lobbying hard to change the definition of health care under the law so as to include faith healers. Such are the perils of having the government design the products you must buy.
I also warned that as costs increased there would be increased pressure to increase subsidies or cap insurance premiums. This week, the Globe reported that State Senator Richard T. Moore, a key architect of the law, is complaining that health insurance premiums are too high. He is demanding that either premiums or subsidies be adjusted so that no one earning less than 300 percent of the poverty level ($58,000 for a family of four) will have to pay more than 5 percent of their income for insurance.
The plan is less than five months old and already the wheels are coming off. It would be sad if it had not all been so predictable.