Wednesday, April 21, 2010

an update on ObamaCare in Massachusetts

From the editorialists of the WSJ...

'This is sort of similar to the bill that Mitt Romney, the Republican governor and now Presidential candidate, passed in Massachusetts," President Obama said in a recent interview defending his national health-care plan—and few disagree, Mitt Romney excepted. So the Massachusetts preview of ObamaCare is all the more instructive after this week's imposition of de facto price controls on its remaining private insurers.

On Thursday, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick's insurance regulators announced that they had rejected 235 of 274 insurer requests for premium increases for individuals and small businesses over the coming year...The state's health costs have risen to the nation's highest since Beacon Hill passed the ObamaCare prototype that was supposed to reduce health costs....price controls are supposedly the only option.

Yet campaigns against the insurance industry are always the first political resort, as Mr. Obama's assault on Anthem Blue Cross of California showed. In Massachusetts, however, the major insurers—Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts Health Plan—are all nonprofits. The state itself calculates that they spend at least 88 cents of every premium dollar on the underlying costs of medical care, often more.

The rates Mr. Patrick denied were generally in the range of 8% to 15%, and the premium cap will eventually force insurers to start restricting patient access to care in order to remain solvent. This is the kind of future that both nonprofit and publicly-traded insurers can look forward to around the country when Democrats start to blame them for the rate increases that ObamaCare will make inevitable....


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