Friday, January 18, 2008

Romneycare/Hillarycare Advocates Suppress Dissent in California Capitol

Just before he left office, Mitt Romney drove through a universal healthcare plan for the state of Massachussetts. The foundation of the system was the individual mandate: in short, solve the problem of the uninsured by making it illegal to be uninsured. If you don't buy health insurance, you pay a fine to the government with your income tax... and the government isn't obliged to pay you a penny for your healthcare. Also, there are no caps on how high insurance premiums can go and little or no guarantee that the insurance corporations will actually pay claims on policies.

The results, according to the consumer advocate group(1) Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights:

Proponents of the Massachusetts mandatory purchase of private insurance sold it on a promise of comprehensive health insurance for about $200 a month.

  • In fact, premiums for health plans for a 55-year-old through the Massachusetts state pool reach up to $531 per month for the most basic required coverage. . . . The same 55-year-old wishing to purchase more comprehensive coverage will pay up to $906 monthly.

  • Massachusetts at least offers automatic exemptions based on income and premium costs. A Wall Street Journal editorial on January 7 noted that Massachusetts has already exempted almost 20% of uninsured adults who don't qualify for subsidies because the mandated insurance is too expensive. Many others who fail to qualify for exemptions are simply refusing to buy.

    . . .

  • Massachusetts estimates that the cost of subsidized plans {paid for by the state government for those living on or below the poverty line} by the end of the first year, July 2008, will be $147 million, or 30%, over budget. (2) . . .

  • There are a higher-than-expected number of enrollees in subsidized care. Massachusetts' budget projected 136,000 participants; 178,000 new enrollees are expected by July 2008. . . .

  • Massachusetts' costs are projected to increase up to an additional 14% next year.

  • Massachusetts' budget for that state's health care program was based on a low-ball number of the insured. The Massachusetts Department of Finance and Policy reported the number of uninsured Massachusetts residents to be 355,000 while the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation found that number to be 571,000. Other estimates put the number of uninsured between 500,000 and 650,000. . . .

Source for above: FTCR Letter to California State Senate. The letter also includes testimonials from two Massachusetts residents who are unable to buy insurance or get on the subsidy list (only about 3% of Massachusetts residents are eligible for hardship subsidies). One of those was Ron Norton, more about whom in a bit.

Why to California? Because Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican governor, and Fabian Nunez, Democratic Speaker of the California House of Representatives, support a law to give California a nearly identical system to Massachusetts.

Before we go into that, back to Massachusetts for a bit. The bureaucracy that runs the program is well aware that the system is failing. Their solution? Increase the fines on those who refuse to participate, according to the Boston Globe.

Hint: if you're trying to do something to help people, punishing people who can't or won't accept the help is counterproductive. Unfortunately this is the standard bureaucratic (and, often, the standard liberal) response: if a system doesn't work, the fault isn't in the system or in the idea behind it, but in the people it's meant to help. Don't change the system, don't rethink the idea, change the people.

Hint #2: I've just spent eight years in an organization (the Libertarian Party) whose primary strategy for elective success was to change the people into Libertarians. It's not a good strategy for any group, be it a third party or a government.

Now remember: this is the core of both Hillary Clinton's and John Edwards' proposals for universal health care. Note, on the stump, that they avoid like the plague answering anyone who asks what the punishment will be for those who won't participate. Note that they also avoid explaining how costs will be kept from soaring through the roof- as they did when automobile insurance became mandatory across the nation.

And it really doesn't say much good about the advocates for this insurance-corporation welfare scheme when they use their power to prevent opponents from having their say.

Don Norton was flown out to Sacramento to testify before the state legislature against their individual-mandate healthcare plan. In response, Speaker Nunez not only cancelled the hearing, but used California police to have Norton and the FTCR spokesperson removed from the Capitol. Furthermore, when Norton and the FTCR spoke to press on the Capitol grounds- outside, in the rain- Nunez announced his intent to prosecute them for the misdemeanor of speaking to the media in the Capitol rotunda. Never mind that they weren't in the rotunda when they spoke: never mind that insurance corporation lobbyists have been speaking in the rotunda all this time without any prosecution.

So, we have a proposed system which won't cover most of those who are currently uninsured, which won't guarantee that what coverage it does provide will actually pay off, that won't prevent insurance companies from price gouging, that won't do a thing to reduce the costs of healthcare, and that requires strong-arm tactics to suppress dissent...

... anyone want to explain to me why this is a good thing?

And remember: a vote for either Hillary or Edwards is a vote for this to go nationwide...

(1) I did a bit of checking on the organization. They appear to be on the up-and-up: the only negative reference I could find was an attack blog that accuses them of being a front for trial lawyers. Granted, trial lawyers make a bundle of money off of consumer advocacy suits (which, often, provide no actual relief to the consumers, fifty-cent coupons notwithstanding). The accusations were empty and scattershot enough for me to ignore the blog, and absent stronger information I'm going to treat the organization's statements as being made in good faith, but still from a position of advocacy, i. e. don't take it as the very last word.

(2) That means the original budget for Massachusetts alone, for the indigent alone, was originally projected at nearly $450 million, and it blew past that in the first year alone... that's to provide emergency-only "Mack truck" insurance for, as the article says, 178,000 people in a state of 6.4 million people. Scale that up to a nationwide system, as Clinton, Edwards, and Romney would have it, and that's over $25 BILLION going into the back pockets of insurance corporations to only cover two percent of Americans with the most bare-bones, last-resort, cover-nothing-but-the-worst coverage... with no actual requirement that the corporations pay off when the time comes. And all of that money comes out of YOUR taxes, folks...

1 comment:

George Phillies said...

And what do you do when the fine is larger than the income tax refund? Throw the uninsured in jail for tax evasion? Of course, that does give them guaranteed medical coverage (8^(( .