Wall Street Criticizes Cost Of Massachusetts Health Insurance Law

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"Gearing up for 2009, liberals are eager to claim Massachusetts as a Valhalla of health reform," and their "enthusiasm is apparently evidence-proof," a Wall Street Journal editorial states. Gov. Deval Patrick (D) "wheeled out a new $129 million tax plan to make up for this year's health spending shortfalls," but "partisans are cheering the cost overruns as a sign of success," the editorial states. "Supporters are exultant because 350,000 people are newly covered" under the state health insurance law, which "cuts the state's uninsured rate by about half," the editorial states, adding, "That's not the promised 'universal' system, but never mind."

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According to the editorial, the "ominous news is that only about 18,000 people -- or 5% of the newly insured -- have taken advantage of the 'connector,' which was supposed to be the plan's free-market innovation linking individuals to private insurers." The editorial states that most of the "growth in coverage has instead come via a new state entitlement called Commonwealth Care," adding that, as the "public option gets overwhelmed, budget gaskets are blowing everywhere."

The "main reason people are uninsured is because coverage is too expensive," according to the editorial. The state "could have helped make insurance cheaper by reforming its private market before defaulting to public programs," but "liberals ... have to gussy up the state's model because the extravagant claim that led to its creation -- that health care will be less expensive if everyone is covered -- is being relentlessly discredited," the editorial states. The editorial concludes, "It's the same claim they want to make when they try to pass a similar plan for the whole country in next year's Congress" (Wall Street Journal, 7/29).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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