Kimberly Moogalian

Don't Nationalize Massachusetts' Health Care Mistakes!

Posted by Wallace Forman, Kimberly Moogalian on Thursday, June 25th, 2009, 3:58 PM PERMALINK

Three years ago Massachusetts legislators passed health reforms aimed at universalizing coverage and reducing costs.  As the national health care debate heats up, many of our legislators are turning to Massachusetts as a possible model for reform.

Massachusetts’ reforms comprise several features: individual mandates, employer mandates, an exchange, and subsidies.  Individual mandates require all state citizens to purchase a government-approved policy.  Employer mandates require businesses to contribute to their employees’ coverage, fining those that do not meet minimum standards.  The exchange creates an artificial, heavily regulated market place.  Finally, the government subsidizes the policy for people making up to 300% above the poverty line. 
President Obama and other Democrat leaders have proposed a similar package of national reforms in order to reshape our nation’s health care: mandates, an exchange, and a public plan that will likely be subsidized. But before we enact these reforms at the national level, lawmakers should reflect on the results of Massachusetts’s attempts at achieving “cheap, universal” health care.
Three years later, Massachusetts has failed to accomplish its goals.  In this briefing, Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute explains the disastrous legacy of its reforms:
Rising insurance premiums:
  • In Massachusetts, health insurance premiums rose by 7.4% in 2007 and 8-12% in 2008.
  • These cost increases outpaced national averages – 6.1% in 2007 and 4.7% in 2008.
Out of control spending:
  • Massachusetts’ health care reforms were projected to cost $1.56 billion.
  • Costs for 2009 may now be as high as $1.9 billion - $300 million above original projections.
  • These costs lead to new taxes.  Already, Deval Patrick has responded to deficits by increasing the state’s cigarette tax by $1 per pack.
 Waiting lists:
  • The number of people foregoing care because of difficulty finding a provider has increased from 3.5% to 4.8%.
  • Among low-income individuals, the same figure increased even more,from 4.2% to 6.9%.
  • Average waiting times for an appointment with an internist have increased from 33 to 52 days.
Failure to universalize coverage:
  • Telephone surveys suggest that a minimum of 2.6% of the state’s residents are still uninsured – 167,300 people.
  • But phone surveys may be unreliable because they undercount young professional and foreign-language residents, precisely the groups most likely to be uninsured.  Other surveys of income tax filers suggest that as many as 5% may remain uninsured.
Health reform may yet cause more damage.  If Massachusetts cannot control its spending, it will have to adopt drastic cost-control measures.  The state may be forced to limit services to those considered the “highest value.”  Alternatively, Massachusetts could enact a “global budget” that would limit the total amount of health care expenditures.  Limited spending limits the supply of care.  This means rationing, denying potentially life-saving treatment.
Our nation desperately needs health care reform: free-market reforms – not the heavy-handed statist measures adopted in Massachusetts.

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31 Flavors of New Tax Proposals for California

Posted by Patrick M. Gleason, Kimberly Moogalian on Thursday, June 11th, 2009, 5:12 PM PERMALINK

In last month’s special election, California voters sent a clear message that the taxpayer well has run dry and lawmakers need to address the GoldenState’s overspending problem.

That message apparently did not get through to the union thugs that control California DemocratsDespite already being one of the highest tax states in the country, AFSCME is proposing more new taxes, thirty-one new taxes to be specific.  They claim they have found a whopping $44 billion in “missed revenue.”  Note: missed revenue, translated from liberal speak, means higher taxes. 

In response to this, Assemblyman Chuck Devore (R-Irvine), chairman of the Taxpayer Protection Caucus, has launched a great website in opposition to these tax increases.  DeVore’s website, 31 Flavors of New Taxes for California,” highlights AFSCME’s tax hike wish list, which touches on everything from alcohol, to sales, to gas, and even online commerce

Only 5 other states have a higher state and local tax burden than CaliforniaAnd until last month, California’s income tax was the highest in the nation. Now they have the second highest. This is not how you attract employers, jobs, people, and investment.

Point of fact, California needs to get its fiscal house in order by cutting duplicative programs and wasteful spending. This is no secret. California lawmakers have increased spending by 300% since 1991.  Had spending been limited to population growth and inflation since that time, the state would have a $15 billion surplus rather than facing a more than $24 billion deficit.  California does not have a $24.3 billion deficit. It has a $24.3 billion overspending problem.

If high taxes were the answer, states like California would be in great shape and have balanced budget. Instead, California is perhaps the biggest fiscal train wreck in the U.S. ATR encourages Californians to visit the website and sign DeVore’s petition opposing the proposed tax hikes.

photo credit: aquarian librarian

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