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MA To Overhaul Its Healthcare Overhaul

Another bit of news the Associated Press thought they could sneak out on a Saturday while everyone is out Christmas shopping:

After expanding coverage, Mass. looks to cut costs

By Steve Leblanc, Associated Press Sat Dec 11, 2010

BOSTON – Four years after Massachusetts embarked on the nation’s most ambitious health care overhaul, Gov. Deval Patrick and legislative leaders are stepping up efforts to rein in spiraling insurance costs.

Those costs are threatening to undermine the 2006 health care law, which mandated nearly universal health coverage and provided a blueprint for the national health care overhaul pushed by President Obama.

The next big goal, supporters say, is to find a way to slow surging premiums while maintaining or improving the delivery of health care services.

Shouldn’t that have been been the first "big goal"? But of course the first big goal was getting the camel’s nose under the tent.

It’s a task of mind-boggling complexity requiring cooperation among doctors, hospitals, insurers, regulators, state lawmakers and the administration.

Whereas letting the market work with minimum government interference would never work.

One way to head in that direction, supporters say, is to gradually move away from a system that pays doctors and hospitals for the number and type of tests and procedures they deliver and instead rewards them for maintaining the overall health of their patients

When all else fails, just change the way you count.

But this vague plan sure has its own unpleasant implications. For instance, what doctors will take severely ill patients if they are going to be paid based on how well they have maintained "the overall health of their patients"?

Monthly premiums for individuals in Massachusetts have increased dramatically in the past decade. From 2001 to 2009, the median monthly premium for individual health plans soared by 76 percent, from $251 to $442

And yet this is the very plan that Mr. Obama said would save the nation trillions of dollars.

Health and Human Services Secretary Judyann Bigby said that while premium increases have eased from the earlier part of the decade, they are still climbing too quickly. She said moving away from the fee-for-service model won’t be easy, but it’s needed to curb costs.

She concedes that making such sweeping changes is a daunting task that requires the participation of all those involved in the delivery of health care.

"The issue is how quickly can you reform such a big system without having mistakes and unintended consequences," Bigby said.

Again, isn’t this something they should have realized before they started down this road?

Slowing the growth of health care premiums is also key for state and town governments struggling to pay for health coverage for police, firefighters and teachers.

A report released this week by the Boston Foundation found that from 2000 to 2007, annual health care premium costs in school budgets soared by $1 billion, while state aid for schools grew by only $700 million…

How much of those teacher union health care costs were for cosmetic surgery?

Health care activists say lawmakers shouldn’t delay too long.

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director for the Massachusetts advocacy group Health Care for All, said her group has seen a dramatic increase in the number of calls from people struggling to pay health premiums.

The status quo, she said, isn’t sustainable

Again, this begs the question – what did their ‘healthcare reform’ actually accomplish? Except to give the government more control?

Glen Shor, executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, which oversees the law, said finding a better way to deliver care will not only improve outcomes for patients but also lower costs.

Paying doctors for "maintaining" health amounts to preventative care. And study after study has shown that preventative care is a fantasy that has never saved any money or any lives.

Rolling back the 2006 law would be exactly the wrong approach, he said.

"The wrong way is to say that people shouldn’t have coverage or to shrink coverage to the extent that it isn’t real coverage," he said. "It’s a moral commitment on the part of the commonwealth that everyone needs access to coverage and care. There’s no escape valve."

Notice that the possibility that Massachusetts may be on the wrong track isn’t even broached until the penultimate paragraph of this article. And then it is just brushed aside as unthinkable.

This will be the same way any repeal of Obama-care will be treated, if it isn’t done right away.

And if it isn’t repealed, we will be reading stories like this on the federal scale for the rest of our lives.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, December 11th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “MA To Overhaul Its Healthcare Overhaul”

  1. proreason says:

    “requiring cooperation among doctors, hospitals, insurers, regulators, state lawmakers and the administration. ”

    And by “cooperation” they mean that health professions will be cutting their fees in half. So, the highest echelon of society, people who spend half their lives studying in order to help save lives, will be seeing their compensation cut to the bone. Meanwhile, paper pushers in the government make 2 times the average compensation for private sector workers.

    But I think I will irritate my S&L friends for a moment and point out something that has happened with the health care that is at the root of the cost issue. For decades, there has been an all-hands-on-deck coordination by marxists, “journalists” and medical professional societies to convince people that marginal improvements in health care services are a necessity of life on a level with food and shelter. Much of it is a hoax. What is it now, 18 or 19% of the GDP is spent on medical services? Common sense will tell you that the 80/20 rule applies and that the top 50% of that spending provides marginal benefits at best.

    But of course, the propaganda from all sides is so intense that it is impossible for people to resist. If they don’t get you about your own health, they fill you with guilt about the health of your loved ones.

    I would love to see an objective study that shows the improvements in longevity from 1900 to 2010. First, I’ll bet it’s a sharply declining curve. Second, I’ll bet that the cost of adding a day to a person’s life now costs something like 10% of the overall cost of health care. But of course, you will never see a study like that. Who would it help, other than people with a vested interest or statists who plan to continue to demagogue health care to increase their power.

    I don’t mean to imply that there haven’t been wonderful improvements in health care over the decades. There have been many. Probably 20% of them have been worth the price. The profession should be concentrating resources on breakthough technologies to treat cancers and other major illnesses, rather than developing cholesterol pills with tiny improvements in side effects. And routine health issues should be handled by people with specific training for routine problems, and the knowledge to know when a problem requires a specialist. Why the cost is hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get a refill prescription for blood pressure medicine is beyond me.

    What will inevitably happen is that people will stop going to doctors for routine services and a black market of Granny Clampetts will arise so that people can divert their health care dollars to things like food.

    Of course, a host of new medical models would inevitably develop organically if the government would get out of the way. It’s easy to already see some of that happening, but ObamyCare will stop all of that in its tract so the socialists can tighten their grip on your life.

  2. GetBackJack says:

    So … not even “brilliant” turn-around specialists specializing in a peculiar Faith can outwit the wisdom of the free market truly left to its own devices?

    What a shocker.

  3. fallingpianos says:

    From the photo, the guy with the sign: “Insurance Profits are Bad For My Health.”

    Aside from the fact that any company’s profits have no bearing on this clown’s health whatsoever, what does he think insurance companies are going to pay claims with? Pixie dust?

    Of course, it makes total sense that his sign is pre-printed. If he’s economically and logically illiterate, it’s not much of a stretch to assume he’s also unable to read and write. Wonder what else he’s incapable of?

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