The Wisconsin Universal Coverage Plan

Today’s OpinionJournal has an editorial describing a universal health care plan proposed for Wisconsin. To borrow a phrase from Ian Donnis, the budget numbers are eye-popping…

Democrats who run the Wisconsin Senate have dropped the Washington pretense of incremental health-care reform and moved directly to passing a plan to insure every resident under the age of 65 in the state. And, wow, is “free” health care expensive. The plan would cost an estimated $15.2 billion, or $3 billion more than the state currently collects in all income, sales and corporate income taxes. It represents an average of $510 a month in higher taxes for every Wisconsin worker.
Employees and businesses would pay for the plan by sharing the cost of a new 14.5% employment tax on wages. Wisconsin businesses would have to compete with out-of-state businesses and foreign rivals while shouldering a 29.8% combined federal-state payroll tax, nearly double the 15.3% payroll tax paid by non-Wisconsin firms for Social Security and Medicare combined.
Pro-rating the total dollars spent by population (5.5 million in Wisconsin, versus about 1 million in Rhode Island), the cost of a similar plan for Rhode Island would carry an estimated price tag of about 2.7 billion dollars, or about 80% of existing general revenues.
Basically we’re talking about making state governments into giant health insurance companies and making all other state government functions into side-operations of the super-insurers.
Wisconsin officials realize that many people aren’t going to be satisfied with their state-controlled coverage (especially if it’s run with the same competence that states have applied to say, public pension funds), so they’re moving immediately to block alternatives…
The plan is also openly hostile to market incentives that contain costs. Private companies are making modest progress in sweating out health-care inflation by making patients more cost-conscious through increased copayments, health savings accounts, and incentives for wellness. The Wisconsin program moves in the opposite direction: It reduces out-of-pocket copayments, bars money-saving HSA plans, and increases the number of mandated medical services covered under the plan.
So where will savings come from? Where they always do in any government plan: Rationing via price controls and, as costs rise, waiting periods and coverage restrictions.
Wisconsin officials are conceding that that their plan will force many people to pay high prices for coverage that doesn’t make sense for them and therefore are denying access to plans that would give people better ability to tailor coverage to their individual needs. It’s a perfect example of the standard excess of big-government: If you don’t have the imagination or skill or desire to build a better mousetrap, then make building new styles of mousetrap illegal!

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Mario
Mario
14 years ago

What’s worse is that health care costs have been growing by about 8% per year. So each year they will have to raise taxes again just to maintain the baseline coverage. And since wages (and the economy as a whole) grow at a much slower rate, Wisconsin citizens can look forward to overall decrease in living standards every single year.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

Hopefully Rhodea Perry and Teresa Paiva-Weed et als. don’t read the Wall Street Journal / Opinion Journal, for they’d think “gee, we could use that in RI!”
Montalbano would come onboard, as he owes Paiva-Weed for her loyalty in remaining silent regarding his, uh, “ethical issues.”
Come to think of it, the “progressive” wing of the Democrat General Assembly always remains silent regarding teh “ethical issues” amongst their fellow Democrats – maybe that’s the quid pro quo for keeping the welfare industry fat and happy.

Bobby Oliveira
14 years ago

Dear Tom W,
At least they don’t “invent” emails to try to win court cases.

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

Is that the best you can do, Bobby? How about “At least they don’t kick puppies and set kittens on fire while they’re {stealing from the taxpayers}.
Comment modified because this is a family website..

Bobby Oliveira
14 years ago

Dear Greg,
Tom knows what I’m talking about. That’s why it was stated the way it was. I could have gone further, no need to make the point. A little something about glass houses.

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

“The John Celona Memorial Glass House”

Mike
Mike
14 years ago

There can’t be universal coverage without costs being brought down and doctors, insurers, lawyers and pharmacuticals taking huge hits.
Since these groups own BOTH parties-don’t hold your breath.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

>>Tom knows what I’m talking about. That’s why it was stated the way it was. I could have gone further, no need to make the point. A little something about glass houses.
Actually BO, I don’t know what it is that you’re alleging.
So why don’t you tell us all?

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

Still waiting …

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

“Montalbano would come onboard, as he owes Paiva-Weed for her loyalty in remaining silent regarding his, uh, “ethical issues.””
Oh, THAT’S what’s going on. And that’s why he allowed her to “veto” those perfectly reasonable illegal immigration bills passed by the House.

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

Teresa and Hillary. Giving warped new meaning to the expression, “Stand by your man”.

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