The libertarian Cato Institute think tank explains why Obamacare and Romneycare are identical in many ways.
As part of his liberal phase when governor of Massachusetts — political principles have been ever-flexible for Romney — he orchestrated passage of legislation with eerie similarities to ObamaCare. Massachusetts mandates purchase of insurance, decides what benefits must be offered, and maintains a complex system of subsidies and penalties. Declared Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker, the two programs are “not identical, but they’re certainly close kin.” MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who advised both Gov. Romney and President Obama on health care, asserted: “Basically, it’s the same thing.”[…]Alas, even the former governor’s constitutional scruples are suspect. In 1994 he backed a federal mandate. His concern about the overweening federal government apparently was not so finely developed then.
[…]However, paying for more benefits for more people inevitably makes medicine more expensive. Costs for Commonwealth Care, the Massachusetts government’s subsidized insurance program alone are up a fifth over initial projections. Last year State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill wrote: “The universal insurance coverage we adopted in 2006 was projected to cost taxpayers $88 million a year. However, since this program was adopted in 2006, our health-care costs have in total exceeded $4 billion. The cost of Massachusetts’ plan has blown a hole in the Commonwealth’s budget.”
[…]State finances have not collapsed only because RomneyCare spread the costs widely, forcing virtually everyone in and out of the state to share the pain. Cahill cited federal subsidies as keeping the state afloat financially. Indeed, a June study from the Beacon Hill Institute concluded that “The state has been able to shift the majority of the costs to the federal government.” The Institute pointed to higher costs of $8.6 billion since the law was implemented. Just $414 million was paid by Massachusetts. Medicaid (federal payments) covered $2.4 billion. Medicare took care of $1.4 billion.
But even more costs, $4.3 billion, have been imposed on the private sector — employers, insurers, and residents. This estimate is in line with an earlier study by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, which figured that 60% of the new costs fell on individuals and businesses.
As expenses have risen, so have premiums. Noted Kuttner, “because serious cost containment was not part of the original package, premium costs in the commonwealth have risen far faster than nationally — by 10.3%, the most recent year available.” Economists John F. Cogan, Glenn Hubbard, and Daniel Kessler figured that RomneyCare inflated premiums by 6% from 2006 to 2008. This at a time where the state-subsidized Commonwealth Care was displacing private insurance for many people, thereby reducing demand, which should have reduced cost pressures.
Unfortunately, noted the Beacon Hill Institute, “private companies have no choice but to pass the higher costs onto the insured. Some of these costs fall in the double-digit range.” That naturally displeased public officials, since it undercut their claim to have solved Massachusetts’ health care problems.
The Bay State’s controversial 2006 universal health-care plan — also known as “Romneycare” — has cost Massachusetts more than 18,000 jobs, according to an exclusive blockbuster study that could provide ammo to GOP rivals of former Gov. Mitt Romney as he touts his job-creating chops on the campaign trail.
“Mandating health insurance coverage and expanding the demand for health services without increasing supply drove up costs. Economics 101 tells us that,” said Paul Bachman, research director at Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute, the conservative think tank that conducted the study. The Herald obtained an exclusive copy of the findings.
“The ‘shared sacrifice’ needed to provide universal health care includes a net loss of jobs, which is attributable to the higher costs that the measure imposed,” said David Tuerck, the institute’s executive director.
…Despite Romney’s vaunted business acumen as a successful venture capitalist, Bachman said the former governor “was a little naive about what would become of the law.”
The Beacon Hill Institute study found that, on average, Romneycare:
- cost the Bay State 18,313 jobs;
- drove up total health insurance costs in Massachusetts by $4.311 billion;
- slowed the growth of disposable income per person by $376; and
- reduced investment in Massachusetts by $25.06 million.
And from the Heartland Institute, an article showing how Romneycare could actually lead to single-payer health care in Massachussetts.
The 2006 reform jeopardized the solvency of private health plans in the Bay State. Unfortunately, insurers’ solvency is not something patients, physicians, and voters have reason to observe closely, so the political class suffers from perverse incentives once it starts micromanaging health insurance. As a result, higher costs have been passed on through higher per capita spending and premium growth.
According to the state’s 2010 annual report, today “per capita spending on health care in Massachusetts is 15 percent higher than the rest of the nation, even when accounting for wages and spending on medical research and education in Massachusetts.” Indeed, Professor John F. Cogan of Stanford University has concluded the 2006 reform led to premium growth 6 percent higher in Massachusetts than in the rest of the United States between 2006 and 2008.
Because it was politically intolerable to allow premiums to rise in line with the costs of Romneycare, the state’s insurance commissioner denied 235 of 276 rate increase requests in April 2010. For a short time, no new policies were offered, and plans suffered significant losses. The next month, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s largest carrier, announced a $55 million provision for anticipated losses in the second quarter alone.
Of the 12 largest carriers, five were already operating at a loss. At this point, even if the state allows Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts to increase rates in line with medical costs, my analysis concludes the carrier will become insolvent in the vicinity of 2017. Other carriers will soon follow.
Campaign speeches and debate zingers today don’t cancel out a liberal leftist record on policy yesterday.
Mitt Romney’s record
And a comprehensive overview of Mitt Romney’s record from the Examiner.
He often claims to have balanced the Massachusetts budget without raising taxes. The first part of that claim is true, but the second part is a matter of semantics.
As Cato pointed out in a 2006 report, while Romney didn’t raise general tax revenues, he raised various fees by $500 million and then proposed $140 million in business tax hikes by closing “loopholes.” His health care plan also increased spending, prompting tax increases after he left office to cover cost overruns.
This time around, by sticking by his health care law, Romney is attempting to avoid the “flip flopper” label that dogged his last campaign. But this shift in tactics isn’t going to make the problem of his past positions suddenly disappear.
As governor, Romney was no friend of gun owners. In 2004, when the Clinton-era federal assault weapons ban expired, he signed a permanent one at the state level.
Despite his tough talk on immigration during his last campaign, in 2005 Romney told the Boston Globe that reform along the lines that McCain proposed was “reasonable.”
Romney also, at various times, supported campaign finance regulations far more sweeping than McCain-Feingold, even though he subsequently blasted that law as an attack on free speech.
Romney’s support for “No Child Left Behind,” President Bush’s expansion of the federal government’s role in education, not only puts him at odds with conservatives, but it also undercuts the federalist defense of his health care law. If a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for health care, why should it work for education?
Furthermore, there’s no reason to believe that social conservatives who were suspicious of Romney’s conveniently timed conversion from pro-choice to pro-life before his last presidential run will see him as any more authentic this time around.
Consider this article from the Boston Globe.
“I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course,” Romney said, in response to the first question of the morning. “But I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that.”
He also said he wanted to wean the country from its dependence on foreign oil by seeking alternative sources of energy, and said that Americans should do more to conserve.
“I’m told that we use almost twice as much energy per person as does a European, and more like three times as much energy as does a Japanese citizen,” Romney said. “We can do a lot better.”
This makes me think that Mitt Romney wants to surpass Obama’s $535 million loan to Solyndra.
(Image: H/T Robert)
Mitt Romney’s record on social issues
From the 1994 Massachusetts Senate debate between Mitt Romney and Edward Kennedy.
Here he is again in 2002 in his run for government of Massachusetts:
And again in May 2005, as governor of Massachusetts:
And on embryonic stem cell research in 2005:
And on gun control in 2002:
Mitt Romney is not a social conservative. He is a center-leftist who will say anything in order to get elected in 2012. Nothing he says can be trusted – he adapts himself to any environment when campaigning – he says what people want to hear, and it is not at all what his actual record shows.
What do conservatives think of Mitt Romney’s record?
Well-known conservative magazine Human Events listed Mitt Romney as #8 on their list of 10 RINOs. This list is from December 27, 2005.
8. Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.)
Has said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.” Supports civil unions and stringent gun laws. After visiting Houston, he criticized the city’s aesthetics, saying, “This is what happens when you don’t have zoning.”
Those are the facts on Mitt Romney’s record.