David A. Mittell on the Mass Healthcare Plan

Projo columnist David A. Mittell likes the Massachusetts universal health care plan even less than I do.
Among other things, Mittell is concerned that using government regulation to force people to buy an inferior quality insurance product seems to be more of a giveaway to big insurance companies than it is good healthcare policy. Here is his complete list of objections…

Based on my speaking with legislators and health-care activists, who could, of course, only speculate, here is the scenario I think we ought to worry about:
  • The bill is a sop to the powerful — it protects big business and rewards big, profitable hospitals with big rate increases.
  • It does not protect small business and small hospitals. It introduces an initially small $295 tax per worker per year on the labor of businesses not providing health insurance.
  • It theoretically increases the number of insured, but has no way of assuring that the expanded coverage is reasonably comprehensive. It becomes, rather, a giveaway to insurance companies, and a bad deal for the newly insured.
  • It doesn’t appropriate enough money to provide good insurance. Its mandate for expanded coverage thus becomes what one legislator called “the camel’s nose in the tent.” When, in a year or two, the new plan is broke, without doing enough for the formerly uninsured, it will need a massive infusion of new cash, including a big increase in the $295-a-year tax on the labor of non-participating businesses.
  • It creates a new bureaucracy with the impossible mandate of effecting top-down, bureaucratic “cost control.” This entity doesn’t control costs, but rather itself becomes a big cost.

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