A Rather Interesting Definition Of Equality

Lately there has been much discussion about what health insurance should cover and what it should not cover. Obamacare has added to that discussion by requiring that approved insurance policies cover pediatric dental care for single people or that single men have coverage for birth control. Yet many cancer patients and people with serious diseases have found that they are not fully covered. We have heard their stories.

I have previously posted stories about Robert, now Michelle, Kosilek (rightwinggranny.com and rightwinggranny.com), a convicted murderer currently serving prison time in Massachusetts. These stories have focused on Mr. Kosilek’s battle to force the Massachusetts taxpayers to pay for his sex-change operation so that he can spend his time in prison as Michelle Kosilek. The latest decision to come down from the Massachusetts court was that the taxpayers should also pay for Mr. Kosilek’s legal expenses in this case.

Now a taxpayer has gone to the courts claiming discrimination in this case. Today’s Boston Herald is reporting that Anita T. Phoenix, 59, a Cambridge transgender woman, has filed a federal lawsuit earlier this month claiming that Medicare and MassHealth discriminated against her because they would not pay for her transgender treatments.

The article reports:

State Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), who has supported the Department of Correction in the Kosilek fight, said the lawsuit shows the dangers of the controversial case.

“It will open the door not only to other law-abiding people to make that claim, but people who are incarcerated to seek other forms of surgery that they wouldn’t otherwise obtain,” said Tarr. “What we’re talking about here are extraordinary measures that most citizens can’t afford and wouldn’t undertake. If we set a precedent in allowing Kosilek to obtain this kind of surgery, what we’d essentially be doing is opening the door for all different types of surgeries that are extraordinary to become the subject of entitlement.”

In 2012, federal Judge Mark Wolf ruled the state must pay for Kosilek’s surgery. DOC is making preparations for the operation should a pending appeal fail.

It seems to me that Mr. Kosilek’s and Ms. Phoenix’s is, to some degree, elective surgery. Health insurance does not pay for face lifts or Lasik eye surgery because they are considered optional. When I had cataract surgery, the toric lens they implanted was not covered by my insurance–I had to pay for it–the insurance company would have paid for a lens that had no prescription, but that would have left me still paying for eyeglasses. Frankly, I am much more sympathetic to Ms. Phoenix’s cause than I am for Mr. Kosilek’s cause. It would be a travesty of justice if Mr. Kosilek, a convicted murderer, has access to free health care that Ms. Phoenix, an average taxpayer, is not able to access freely under her health insurance.

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I Love The Irony In This

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted an article about the impact of ObamaCare in Massachusetts–the home of RomneyCare. RomeyCare was supposed to be the model for ObamaCare, but when you look closely at RomneyCare, there are some significant differences. Neither one did what was promised, but at least RomneyCare did not totally wreck healthcare in Massachusetts. It has taken ObamaCare to do that!

The article reports:

Starting in 2007 — over a period of three years — Massachusetts spent $3,449,520 developing a first-in-the-nation online health exchange, which allowed the state’s citizens to purchase health coverage. And when President Obama campaigned for the passage of his own federal health law, he leaned on the Massachusetts experiment as a model for the nation.

But the changes mandated by Obama’s Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, have actually gutted the effectiveness of Massachusetts’ once-working model.

Thanks to Obamacare, in 2012, Massachusetts began a transition to a new federally compliant health exchange, budgeted to cost $69 million. But to date, not one person has purchased health care through that federally funded exchange.

…The Massachusetts legislature didn’t even vote until June of 2013 to authorize the Connector Authority to change from their original functioning exchange over to the new system. Shortly after that vote, as The Boston Globe reported, officials started warning the Health Connector that the website would not work.

…On the unsubsidized side, Connector Authority spokesman Jason Lefferts told the Daily Caller, “We have worked with carriers to define the most similar plan to current coverage. The members will get a notice with the details. If they like it, all they do is pay the bill and they are all set. If they don’t, they are able to shop for a new plan. This new mechanism will allow these people to keep coverage without having to go through the website. All members will get notices within the next week.”

Yet four and a half months after the launch date of the new exchange, there remains no end date in site for the fixes.

Yang summed up the current situation at the last board meeting: “We have to work harder,” she said, according to the Boston Globe. “That means I need to tell the staff members they’re not doing a good enough job and I’m telling them that, even though they have been doing this tirelessly for months, and they’re exhausted.”

RomneyCare was no bargain, but it has taken ObamaCare to ruin it completely.

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Your Tax Dollars At Work

Boston Business Journal posted an article today about one aspect of bringing ObamaCare to Massachusetts.

The article reports:

More than 200,000 in Massachusetts could actually lose health care coverage in the switch to ObamaCare next year. To prevent that, state officials are pulling out all the stops to make sure members of state-subsidized health plans, established under Massachusetts’ own health care reform, don’t lose coverage in the shift.

In order to prevent those state residents from losing their health care coverage, the state is launching a heavy-duty public education campaign, including 230,000 outgoing phone calls urging those currently covered under Massachusetts health care plans to switch to ObamaCare. The new ObamaCare plans are called ConnectorCare plans

The article further reports:

The price tag for all those phone calls – just one part of the outreach effort – is $4.4 million, which will be paid to vendor Dell Services, the services arm of Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL). But there are strings attached. The contract includes penalties for not converting the majority of eligible Commonwealth Care members by Jan. 1, 2014. There will also be a per-member penalty if Dell fails to reach benchmarks by the end of the open enrollment period on March 31, 2014.

It says something about the appeal of ObamaCare that Massachusetts has to pay $4.4 million to get people to enroll in it.

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Sharing The Cost Of Obamacare

One of the threats I am hearing from Democrats to the American people is that if Mitt Romney is elected, your children under 26 will no longer have health insurance. There is no mention of the fact that the Republicans are not stupid, and if they repeal Obamacare, there are certain provisions of it that they will quickly implement. However, in making these charges, the Democrats do tend to overlook some basic facts.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air reported yesterday that under Obamacare, the cost of health insurance for college students at the University of North Carolina will be increasing from $460 per semester to $709 per semester.

The article reports:

In part, this was caused by the claims experience of Chartis over the last couple of years, which discovered that students on this plan accessed care more often than they initially predicted.  A significant part of the increase, however, comes from the requirements of comprehensive insurance coverage that will exacerbate those trends rather than limit cost increases.

We saw a similar thing happen in Massachusetts with insurance rates for all residents of the state. You can’t mandate ‘one size fits all’ insurance coverage for everyone and expect the rates to stay the same. People need the right to decide how much coverage they want. Logically you should decide whether you want a policy that covers every doctor’s visit or one that simply covers specialists and hospital visits. Obamacare takes this right away from you (as did Massachusetts healthcare reform).

Now before you say that Romneycare equals Obamacare, let me explain a few things about Romneycare. Governor Romney had no choice but to go along with the idea of state health insurance–Massachusetts is a one-party state, and the legislature was going to pass healthcare reform. As Governor, Mitt Romney tried to temper the ‘let the government do everything’ philosophy’ of the state legislature, but was unsuccessful. The bill that eventually passed in Massachusetts had little or no resemblance to what the Governor originally proposed. Under Governor Patrick, it has gotten even worse. At some point in the future, it will probably be defunded and killed. As a result of Romneycare, insurance premiums are growing faster than in other states, waits to see a doctor are longer, patients do not always have the freedom to choose what hospital they would like to go to, and emergency waiting rooms lines are still incredibly long. Progress has not been made. This is what we will see nationally when Obamacare is fully implemented (oddly enough, after the election).

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Sometimes The Solution Is Worse Than The Problem

On Monday, Forbes Magazine posted an article about the changes Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has made to the health care plan originally passed under Governor Mitt Romney. Because the costs of the original plan have spiraled out of control, Governor Patrick is working to slow the growth of the cost of medical care in Massachusetts. His heart may be in the right place, but his plan will do considerable damage to an already broken system.

The article reports:

Insurers and large hospitals in Massachusetts will also have to pay $225 million in surcharges over four years, starting in 2013. The measure’s backers project savings of $200 billion over 15 years.

Massachusetts State Rep. Steven Levy (R-Marlborough) has noted that the law contains no specifics as to how the savings it mandates will actually come into being. He’s also called the gross state product a “random” number with which to straitjacket the healthcare budget.

The article further explains that part of the changes to the law include the creation of two new state agencies–the Health Policy Commission and the Center for Health Information Analysis. How is it possible to save money when you have created two new agencies staffed with people who have to be paid, office space that has to be rented, and office supplies that have to be purchased?

The article further reports:

Witness the impact that previous rounds of government-directed “reform” have already had. A study published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that the Bay State’s 2006 health reform package had been associated with rapid new hiring in the Massachusetts health system.

That might sound like good news. But it wasn’t doctors or nurses getting hired. Rather, it was scores of administrative workers, who were needed to process all the new paperwork mandated by the reform effort.

I hate to be difficult, but is anyone concerned about the medical care for the patients in this scenario?

The article reports:

…The Massachusetts Medical Society has predicted that Gov. Patrick’s law will force many hospitals to cut staff and result in delayed care for some patients.

Bay Staters already have to wait 45 days on average for an appointment with a family medicine doctor, according to the Society. That’s a 50 percent jump in wait time since 2010.

If the Massachusetts heath care reform bill is the model for Obamacare, we need to pay attention as Massachusetts shows us why we need to end Obamacare!

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Coming Soon To A Hospital Or Doctor Near You

On Sunday The Wall Street Journal posted an article detailing what has happened in Massachusetts since the legislature reformed health care in 2006. It isn’t a pretty picture.

I don’t know if Obamacare was based on what was done in Massachusetts or not, but I do know that what was done in Massachusetts would have been considerably worse if Mitt Romney had not been Governor. Although he was not successful is stopping all of the policies that were put in place, he did stop some of the more drastic ideas. Governor Patrick has worked with the legislature to make things worse.

The article reports:

The claim then, as with the Affordable Care Act, was that health care would be less expensive if everyone had insurance. Soon Massachusetts Democrats leaked that their political strategy all along was to expand coverage only, because had RomneyCare seriously squeezed providers it never would have overcome industry opposition. “Bending the curve” on costs could be saved for another day, once a vast new government liability was locked in.

RomneyCare has increased state health spending in real terms by 59%.

The article also reports:

…79% of the newly insured are on public programs. Health costs—Medicaid, RomneyCare’s subsidies, public-employee compensation—will consume some 54% of the state budget in 2012, up from about 24% in 2001.

Spending on heath care in Massachusetts has increased dramatically since RomneyCare. Heath care costs are 27% higher than the national average–15% higher when adjusted for the states wage scale and academic medical centers and specialists.

Governor Patrick’s latest reforms are aimed at keeping costs down. The article reports:

But Massachusetts takes 360-degree surveillance and converts it into a panopticon prison. An 11-member board known as the Health Policy Commission will use the data to set and enforce rules to ensure that total Massachusetts health spending, public and private, grows no more than projected gross state product through 2017, and 0.5 percentage points lower thereafter. (And Paul Ryan‘s Medicare projections are unrealistic?)

This is the Massachusetts ‘death panel.’

Electing Mitt Romney as President won’t solve the health care problems in Massachusetts (currently being made worse by Governor Patrick), but it will end ObamaCare.



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What Really Happened In Massachusetts

On July 6, Mona Charen posted an article at Townhall.com explaining what happened in Massachusetts regarding healthcare and how Obamacare is different from Romneycare.

The article points out that before Mitt Romney became governor, Massachusetts had a number of laws that resulted in a very expensive healthcare system. Governor Romney was attempting to rein in those costs. Unfortunately, he was dealing with an 85 percent Democratic legislature that totally twisted his ideas and passed something very different than what he had envisioned.

The article points out:

Romney’s idea was to permit Massachusetts insurers to sell catastrophic plans. As Avik Roy explained in Forbes, “Shorn of the costly mandates and restrictions originating in earlier state laws, these plans, called ‘Commonwealth Care Basic,’ could cost much less. Romney also proposed merging the non-group and small-group markets, so as to give individuals access to the more cost-effective plans available to small businesses.” Romney’s plan would also have involved a degree of cost sharing so that those receiving subsidies would have an incentive to minimize their consumption.

This is very different from the plan that was eventually passed. The law was later changed under Governor Deval Patrick, requiring insurance companies to offer three tiers of coverage — all of them far beyond catastrophic care.

The article further reminds us:

Romney’s proposed reforms included fraud prevention measures for Medicaid, requiring the income of both parents to be considered in children’s Medicaid eligibility, medical malpractice tort reform, and giving individuals the same treatment as small businesses in the purchase of health plans. He envisioned a system of increased competition and choice.

Had the bill that Governor Romney wanted passed, healthcare in Massachusetts would be a good example for the nation. The plan the legislature passed and Governor Patrick modified is a nightmare for the sate and the nation.


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Just A Short Rant (Well, Not So Short)

I am a registered Republican. I am not always in agreement with the Republican party (particularly here in Massachusetts), but it’s the best I can do at this particular moment. I will be voting for Mitt Romney unless the October surprise from the Obama campaign is proof that Mitt Romney is an alien ax murderer sent from the planet Zenon to invade the earth. Then I might possible rethink my vote–but I doubt it. Anyway, I listen to talk radio and I listen to the people around me, and I hear a lot of comments about Governor Romney and the fact that he was Governor of Massachusetts when the Massachusetts healthcare law was passed. I am not a fan of Massachusetts healthcare. I will tell you why.

I have had cataract surgery twice. Both times I had good medical insurance through my husband’s workplace. The first surgery cost me $250 out of pocket, and the second surgery cost me $2450 out of pocket. What was the difference? In both cases the lens of my eye was replaced with a prescription lens–I have worn thick glasses since I was a small child. Before Massachusetts healthcare was passed, the prescription lens was included. After Massachusetts healthcare was passed, the prescription lens was optional–I could have had them put in a clear lens and it would have cost me $250, but if I wanted the best possible outcome–being able to see without glasses, it was extra. Think about this–the medical care I needed was available–the lens with the cataract was replaced, but if I wanted the best outcome, it was not covered by insurance. That is what government insurance does–it saves money by compromising on the quality of care.

Now, about Mitt Romney and Massachusetts healthcare. The people of Massachusetts (after all, this is Massachusetts) wanted universal health coverage. Universal coverage was going to pass the legislation. There was no way Mitt Romney could have stopped it. He did attempt to curb some of its provisions, but there was no way it was going to be stopped. I don’t blame Mitt Romney for Massachusetts healthcare–I blame the voters of Massachusetts who are content with a one-party state that allows corruption at a level where it is routine for the Speaker of the House to serve jail time for his actions as speaker. This has happened often enough so that it is almost routine. Don’t blame Romney–blame to voters!

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Some Changes To RomneyCare You Might Have Missed

As the presidential campaign continues, there will be much discussion about the differences between RomneyCare and ObamaCare. The major difference, of course, is that the state has the power to try to deal with its healthcare challenges as it sees fit. It becomes a different issue when the government tries to take over the healthcare section of the American economy. However, there have been some subtle changes in RomneyCare that have occurred since Governor Patrick took office in Massachusetts.

On Monday night, I had a chance to see a presentation by Mike Stopa in Northborough on the subject of ObamaCare and the impact it will have on healthcare in America if it is not repealed. Mike Stopa is a Physicist specializing in computation and nanoscience in the Physics Department at Harvard University. He is the director of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network Computation Project and a recognized expert on nanoscale electronics and computation. He has over 75 publications and over a thousand citations to his work in the physics literature. His homepage at Harvard can be found here. Mike is a life-long, fiscally conservative Republican, which is not a popular ideology at Harvard. He was recently a first-time candidate for Congress in the third district of Massachusetts.

In the course of his discussion he repeated some aspects of the Massachusetts healthcare law that he had discussed in an article at the MetroWest Daily News in April of 2011.

This is a direct quote from his article:

“…because the terminally ill often are hospitalized and may be candidates for the intensive care unit (ICU), and because the ICU is particularly resource-intensive, reducing use of the ICU among such patients appears to present unique opportunities for cost reduction.”

Nevertheless, a recently released report by the Expert Panel on End of Life Care organized under Governor Patrick’s Health Care Quality and Cost Control Council emphasizes that many more of us would rather die at home; that we want that familiar view out our bedroom window instead of those cold, faceless hospital rooms with all those complicated machines. Many of us are willing, nay eager to let slip the mortal coil if we can only do so in a more caring, dignified environment. In short, in the words of panel co-chair Lachlan Forrow: “our expert commission actually wanted people not to think about cost. That’s not the point.”

The report by the End of Life Experts suggests many carrots to entice the terminally ill to get out of the hospital, but it also contains one simple, all-encompassing stick. Specifically, the Experts recommend that “any Commonwealth payment reform initiative should be designed to ensure that, for all patients with serious advancing illness…payment for medical services requires adequate documentation that they are based on the well-informed wishes of patients (or appropriate surrogates), including understanding of life-prolonging and palliative care or hospice alternatives.”

As ObamaCare is implemented, one of the things that will occur is that younger Americans will be asked to subsidize the healthcare costs of older Americans. It is a pretty safe bet that once they figure out what is going on, younger Americans are not going to be thrilled with that concept. Add to that the fact that a large part of the generation they will be asked to subsidize will be the generation that legalized abortion–the killing of their generation. Because of legalized abortion, there will not be enough of the younger generation to shoulder comfortably the burden of caring for their elderly parents. The irony of this is amazing. At some point, our younger generation will become the first generation to kill their parents legally (euthanasia) just as their parents were the first generation to kill their children legally (abortion).

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The Problem With RomneyCare

Faneuil Hall circa 1890-1906

Image via Wikipedia

On October 27, the Boston Herald posted an article stating that under RomneyCare, free emergency healthcare for more than 52,000 illegal aliens in Massachusetts cost the Massachusetts taxpayers $35.7 million.

An e-mail from a friend reports:

Because of Andover’s Republican Representative Jim Lyons, the Patrick administration recently divulged the startling news that 55,000 illegal aliens received over $93 million in MassHealth emergency health services last year. Representative Lyons temporarily blocked a supplemental spending bill by refusing to leave the House chamber until the tell-tale numbers were made public.

A study by the Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) study suggests that RomneyCare has not delivered the lowered health care costs we were promised. To the contrary, while extending coverage to most residents, $8 billion of new costs were imposed on the federal government, Commonwealth residents and businesses. In addition, RomneyCare has triggered the loss of 18,000 jobs, and a reduction of disposable income.

This is a difficult issue. I do not want to deny emergency medical care to anyone, whether they are here legally or not. However, we need to find a responsible, cost effective way to deliver that care. RomneyCare is not it.



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