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The New York Times does some honest reporting:

Thanks to new taxes and fees imposed last year, the health plan’s jittery finances have stabilized for the moment. But government and industry officials agree that the plan will not be sustainable over the next 5 to 10 years if they do not take significant steps to arrest the growth of health spending.

Those who led the 2006 effort said it would not have been feasible to enact universal coverage if the legislation had required heavy cost controls. The very stakeholders who were coaxed into the tent – doctors, hospitals, insurers and consumer groups – would probably have been driven into opposition by efforts to reduce their revenues and constrain their medical practices, they said.

health spending per person in Massachusetts increased faster than the national average in seven of the last eight years. Furthermore, he said, the gap has grown exponentially, with Massachusetts now spending about a third more per person, up from 23 percent in 1980

In its first full year of operation, Commonwealth Care drew higher enrollment than anticipated, and the state found itself facing an inaugural budget gap. Mr. Patrick and the legislature filled it by assessing insurers and hospitals, raising the penalty on noncompliant businesses, increasing premiums and co-payments for consumers, and raising the state tobacco tax.

The fear was that such tree-shaking would become an annual ritual.

Some health policy experts argue that changes in payment practices will not be enough to slow the growth in spending, even when combined with other cost-cutting strategies. To truly change course, they say, the state and federal governments may need to place actual limits on health spending, which could lead to rationing of care.

Really controlling costs requires just stopping spending,” said Stuart H. Altman, a professor of health policy at Brandeis University.

Some of the proposals about how to curb spending are actually rather sensible … such as having a medical system where customers pay for the treatment of a particular event, not for every single service that is rendered. In other words, if I catch pneumonia, I pay the doctor for treating pneumonia, not in bits and pieces for an x-ray, an office visit, a follow-up visit, a phone call, etc.

I’ve said it elsewhere, if spending and costs cannot be brought under control in Massachusetts, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that it can be done at all nationwide. Massachusetts is far healthier and wealthier than most other states, and had far fewer uninsured than other states. The simple fact is that we do not have a health care problem in America, we have a flat-panel TV problem. Moving to electronic records, single payer, harder negotiations on drug prices, etc. is likely to have only a very modest impact on the “cost” of “health care.” The socialists that are in power now will never admit to that, just like the socialists in Massachusetts never admitted it at the outset of the MassHealth plan.

One Response to “How’s That Working Out for Ya?”

  1. Econobran says:

    Now, Pelosi wants to bail out the newspaper. I laughed out loud when I heard the story, although it’s not very funny when she is in such a powerful position. Once again, I have underestimated the stupidity of our Congresspeople. Maybe we can arrange a bailout for the candle makers next?
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/16/MNIA16GCBO.DTL

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