In today’s Washington Post, columnist E.J. Dionne becomes the latest liberal to endorse Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s health care reform legislation. The plan has also been endorsed by Sens. Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton.
Since Governor Romney and the Heritage Foundation (which helped to write the bill) keep insisting that it is “free market” reform, one has to wonder about their strange new bedfellows.
While much of the attention has been focused on the legislation’s unprecedented individual mandate requiring all Massachusetts residents to purchase health insurance, the heart of the reform is the creation of a new state entity, the Connector, to manage the state’s individual and small group markets. The Connector is a form of managed competition similar to the failed Clinton health reform of 1993. It would create an artificial marketplace where individuals could purchase a limited number of “approved” and regulated products. This is not a free-market reform. As University of Chicago Law Professor Richard Epstein says, managed competition is “an oxymoron. One can either have managed health care or competition in health care services. It is not possible to have both simultaneously.”
Liberals must also love the bill’s massive subsidies. Subsidies would be available for those with incomes ranging from $30,480 for a single individual to as much as $130,389 for a married couple with seven children. A typical married couple with two children would qualify for a subsidy if their income is below $58,500. Subsidies at this level will extend dependence on government well into the middle class.
This bill is a pretty clear example of big government conservatism on the march. No wonder the Left is so happy.