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Yes, Obamacare Is Romneycare

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Posted on March 22 2010 3:30 pm
I am: Alex Knepper. 20 years old. Republican. Classically liberal. Atheist. Gay. Contrarian. I support: Laissez-faire capitalism. A robust foreign policy. Social tolerance. Individualism. Reason. I oppose: Statism. Collectivism. Government schools. Psychiatry. Religion -- especially Islam. I admire: Aristotle. Epictetus. John Taylor Gatto. Rudy Giuliani. Barry Goldwater. Rudy Giuliani. Friedrich Hayek. Christopher Hitchens. H.L. Mencken. Ludwig von Mises. Camille Paglia. Isabel Paterson. Ayn Rand. Robert Spencer. Thomas Szasz.

Farewell, Mitt.

As they cast the 216th vote last night, Nancy Pelosi and her minions also smashed Mitt Romney’s presidential ambitions. There is literally no substantial difference between Obamacare and Romneycare. The fundamentals are exactly the same: an individual mandate is placed upon all citizens to purchase health insurance, with subsidies handed out to those in the lower-income strata. And more: insurance companies cannot deny coverage based upon pre-existing conditions, and new bureaucracy is enacted to comply with the new laws.

Massachusetts has seen the future, and the verdict from the citizenry is in: it doesn’t work. Consider the following:

A Rasmussen poll from June 2009 indicates that only a quarter of the state’s residents consider the plan a success, and two-thirds of Republicans consider it an outright failure:

Only 10% of Bay State voters say the quality of health care has gotten better as a result of the reform plan while 29% say it has gotten worse. Most (53%) say the quality of care has not changed.

By a 37% to 17% margin, Massachusetts liberals consider the program a success. By a 55% to 18% margin, conservatives in the state say it’s been a failure.

From a partisan perspective, Democrats are fairly evenly divided with 49% not sure if the reform effort has been a success or a failure. Sixty-six percent (66%) of Republicans say it’s been a failure.

Michael Tanner of CATO considers the plan an outright failure:

According to insurance industry insiders, the plans are too costly for the target market, and the potential customers- largely younger, healthy men-have resisted buying them. Those who have signed up have been disproportionately older and less healthy. This should come as no surprise since Massachusetts maintains a modified form of community rating, which forces younger and healthier individuals to pay higher premiums in order to subsidize premiums for the old and sick.

Thus, between half and two-thirds of those uninsured before the plan was implemented remain so. That’s a far cry from universal coverage. In fact, whatever progress has been made toward reducing the ranks of the uninsured appears to be almost solely the result of the subsidies. The much ballyhooed mandate itself appears to have had almost no impact.

The Massachusetts plan might not have achieved universal coverage, but it has cost taxpayers a great deal of money. Originally, the plan was projected to cost $1.8 billion this year. Now it is expected to exceed those estimates by $150 million. Over the next 10 years, projections suggest that Romney- Care will cost about $2 billion more than was budgeted. And the cost to Massachusetts taxpayers could be even higher because new federal rules could deprive the state of $100 million per year in Medicaid money that the state planned to use to help finance the program.

Romney has attempted to address these criticisms, trying desperately to distinguish his plan from Obamacare in some substantial way. But these efforts have fallen maddeningly short: the only real difference he has been able to point out, time and time again, is that Obamacare is a federal effort, while Massachusetts’ plan was state-enacted, allowing for federalism.

Well, obviously. But that doesn’t mean that the plan isn’t a miniature version of something Nancy Pelosi gushed over. Romney, in the interview linked to above, called Congressional Democrats “neo-monarchists” for trying to ram through the current bill. What does this make him, exactly?

The odds of the other presidential contenders — let alone the Tea Party movement — allowing Romney to get away with these obfuscations is approximately nil. Mitt Romney may stand tall in the polls right now, but just as his support in 2008 was paper-thin, we will see him fall again. Let us not forget that in Iowa, Romney spent millions of his own dollars on a socially conservative makeover. But Mike Huckabee, with his genuine social conservatism, steamrolled Mitt over the period of a few short months with little more than his own sincerity. In other words: once the real thing came along, Mitt was finished. As Mitt tries to cast himself as a pro-capitalist, free-market champion, will history repeat itself in 2012?

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