The parallels between Massachusetts’ health care “reform” program (“RomneyCare”) and the federal health care “reform” program (“ObamaCare”) are many. The problems RomneyCare are having are often good indicators of problems that ObamaCare will have. And of late, they’ve both been getting a lot of attention for those they’ve chosen to exclude from their requirements.
Under ObamaCare, it’s organizations and businesses that have received the waivers — mainly unions and other strong backers of the program who’ve curried the favor of the Obama administration. Why, it’s almost like those who believe most strongly in the program, who spent the most money on getting it passed, realize that it’s an utter disaster waiting to happen and want nothing to do with it.
In Massachusetts, however, the waivers are being granted not to businesses and organizations, but individuals. It’s at the stage where the individual mandate has kicked in, and individuals are finding themselves having to prove they have adequate insurance on their own, sign up for the state plans, or pay a fine.
Unless they can demonstrate to the state that they simply can’t afford any of those options, in which case the state might give them a pass and let them go uncovered.
Which they did for about 1,600 people last year.
One of those lucky ones was Ralph Ross. Ross, a 49-year-old public school teacher, pulled down $67,000 in 2008. The premiums for his family offered by the town was $310 a month, or $3,720 a year — about 5.5% of his annual income. Ross was initially denied the waiver, but showed that he is in serious financial distress — including presenting utility cutoff notices — and was given the reprieve.
That was, in my opinion, a mistake.
Ross is a public school teacher. His union was one of the bigger backers of RomneyCare. He has no business going against his union in this way, embarrassing them.
Further, he makes a decent living. He obviously has his priorities out of whack — he is arguing that he should not be obligated to provide for the health care of his wife and three children. He has chosen to expend his resources in other ways.
And he simply has no right to make that choice. The State has decided that having or not having insurance is not something one has any say in — they must have it. It is not optional, it is a requirement. And if that means that Mr. Ross has to find a smaller, cheaper home or give up a car or have his wife get a job (or a better job — it doesn’t say if she’s employed, but the implication is that she does not) or find other ways to cut back, he has to do it. It’s not negotiable, it’s the law.
This is exactly what happens when something becomes a mandate. It is no longer something that you can weigh and balance against other factors, exercise your own best judgment, and take risks as you see fit. The State has decided that you will have insurance, that said insurance will meet certain minimum standards, and you will pay the premiums accordingly. Period. End of discussion.
The State has determined that Mr. Ross must provide insurance for himself and his family. His employer — the Walpole school district — offered a plan to him where they picked up the entire tab but $310 a month, or about $77.50 a week. There might have been other plans offered by the state, but that was the number given. He simply had to find a way to pay it, and he didn’t. So he should have been fined. Plus, his failure to provide for his family — in the way The State determined was mandatory — is a failing that calls into question his suitability as a parent. What kind of a father would let his children go without insurance?
That’s the face, the stark truth of RomneyCare. And it is the future of ObamaCare.