January 31 2012
Massachusetts' Lesson for the Nation
Carrie L. Lukas
RomneyCare is a political liability for Gov. Romney as he pursues the GOP nomination. The Governor tries to highlight ways in which ObamaCare and RomneyCare differ, and argues that federal-level mandates are in a different category of government overreach than state-level mandates, but it's not very persuasive.
It's appropriate that this is a big campaign issue. After all, campaigns are about choices. If Americans re-elect President Obama, they are pretty much choosing to continue on the path toward government-run medicine. GOP primary voters for whom overturning ObamaCare is a priority have another choice to make: Who will make the most persuasive case for an alternative path during the election and make that a reality afterward?
Yet Massachusetts' health care system isn't just an important part of the current primary stand-off. It also provides important lessons for Americans about the consequences of moving toward government-run health care.
Writing in Newsmax, Betsy McCaughey details how RomenyCare and ObamaCare are in fact identical systems. More importantly, she highlights the outcome of RomneyCare in Massachusetts, which is a preview of what we can expect nationally if ObamaCare implementation proceeds.
Massachusetts has the nation's highest insurance premiums. Studies estimate that the employer-mandate has resulted in 18,000 fewer jobs in the Bay State. Massachusetts is moving to implement costs savings measures, such as boards that set specific treatment protocols that doctors and medical professionals must follow.
Another expert panel will deal specifically with end-of-life care. McCaughey reports that Massachusetts will be launching a p.r. campaign in hopes of changing how and where people choose to die. Less than one quarter of Massachusetts residents die at home, and the state wants to boost that percentage.
How's that for a modern government goal? On the one hand, as taxpayers, we get it: Dying in a hospital is undoubtedly way more expensive than dying at home. Therefore, if taxpayers are going to foot the bill, we should want money used efficiently.
But shouldn't this set off alarm bells? Isn't that entire line of thinking one that argues against government provision of medical care? Of course money should, indeed must, be a factor when we make choices about medical care. Each patient can't get a multi-million dollar send off--the equivalent of a long, last stay at the highest-end luxury resort. But how much money we choose to invest in our own care has to be a personal, or at least a family, decision.
Yes, that means that some will have more luxury at the end than others. That's true essentially every moment of life. And yes we can strive as a society that everyone has a basic level of care. But surely we can recognize the danger of having government boards make these decisions for millions of Americans.
Betsy McCaughey's piece is a must-read for anyone wondering what the future holds if ObamaCare proceeds. It's not just a tale of higher costs and diminishing care, but of a state with powers that would shock our founders.