One of Mitt Romney’s last little gifts to the people of Massachusetts was a plan that required every single resident of the Commonwealth to carry health insurance under penalty of law. I think P. J. O’Rourke would call it the “Take Care Of Your Health Or We’ll Kill You” plan.
As I understand the way the plan works, if you have health insurance, you’re fine. If you don’t, your employer is “encouraged” to offer you some sort of plan, even if they don’t offer to pick up part of the tab. And if all else fails, you sign up for some state plan. No matter what, you’re GOING to be covered.
Well, the plan’s been in effect for about a year now, and what’s the result? Pretty much as you’d expect.
The real fun will come at the beginning of the year, when the state will find itself obligated to fine those people who — for whatever reason — have chosen to not sign up. Will Massachusetts have the courage of its convictions and actually carry out the legal penalties for going without health insurance? Will they repeal the law? Amend it to lessen or remove the penalties?
All possibilities, but as a long-time observer of Massachusetts politics, I don’t think those are weaselly enough for Bay State politicians. Instead, I’ll predict that they’ll either extend the deadline or just ignore it entirely.
Remember, this is the health plan that Mitt Romney boasts of. This is a version of Hillary Care that the former first lady and current junior senator from
Where was I? Oh, yeah. This is the future of health care insurance reform that some of the candidates are putting forward. And if you’re wondering just how it’ll be presented, let me quote the end of the article:
Jarrett Barrios, president of the Blue Cross Foundation, says the outreach effort needs to “move into the trenches” to address more directly the reasons that make people choose not to apply.
“That choice jeopardizes not only their own health, but may jeopardize the entire project of health reform,” he said.
That’s right. The poorest, least educated, most disadvantaged segment of the population just might hold the power to destroy a plan intended to take care of everybody by exerting their “right to choose,” by saying that — for whatever reason, and it certainly is not our place to judge their reasons — they do not wish to participate.
If Mr. Barrios is to believed, that is incredibly shaky ground. But Mr. Barrios is the same former Massachusetts State Senator who once proposed banning schools from offering Fluffernutter sandwiches as an attempt to check childhod obesity. So I tend to take his pronouncements with several times my Recommended Daily Allowance of salt.
But think about it. Here we have the bluest of blue states, the state that is completely owned — lock, stock, and barrel — by the Democrats (both Senate seats, all ten House seats, every single statewide office from the Governor down, and over 85% of the Legislature), and the biggest threat they can see is from poor, uneducated, disadvantaged people exercising a choice on a matter of their own personal health and safety. That they might make the “wrong” choice could destroy one of their proudest achievements, and imperil the health coverage of hundreds of thousands of people.
If that doesn’t open your eyes and scare the crap out of you, I don’t know what more I can say.