RomneyCare vs ObamaCare, is there a difference?

Posted: May 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

Governor Massachusetts 2002-2007

He entered with a $3billion deficit, which was already being cut in half due to grants & taxes.. but he did manage to add more taxes & cuts to create a sizeable surplus.  (Wikipedia)

    • Upon entering office in the middle of a fiscal year, Romney faced an immediate $650 million shortfall and a projected $3 billion deficit for the next year
    • Unexpected revenue of $1.0–1.3 billion from a previously enacted capital gains tax increase and $500 million in unanticipated federal grants decreased the deficit to $1.2–1.5 billion
    • Through a combination of spending cuts, increased fees, and removal of corporate tax loopholes, by 2006 the state had a $600–700 million surplus

So he taxed the people to death in Massachusetts, then he pushed Romneycare…

April 12, 2006 Romneycare/ Massachusetts Health Reform Law was signed.

  •  Requires nearly all Massachusetts residents to buy health insurance coverage or face escalating tax penalties such as the loss of their personal income tax exemption.
  • He vetoed eight sections of the health care legislation, including a controversial $295-per-employee assessment on businesses that do not offer health insurance and provisions guaranteeing dental benefits to Medicaid recipients.  The legislature overrode all eight vetoes; Romney’s communications director Eric Fehrnstrom responded by saying, “These differences with the Legislature are not essential to the goal of getting everyone covered with insurance.”

So while he denies similarities to Obamacare, both are mandated, both involve fees/penalties for not obtaining it, and also fined businesses that don’t offer it. So if he won the Presidential election in 2012 would he eliminate Obamacare? Would he replace it with Romneycare? would there be a difference?

Read on.. I have hunted down a ton of stuff.. for/against, and why.. along with what are the Massachusetts minimum requirements on health care, plus how much is Romneycare costing??

Where he has stood…

  • 1992 Presidential primaries, he voted for a Democrat.
  • Until he ran for Senate in 1993, he was  a registered Independent.
  • 1994, he sided with Republican (Massachusetts Governor William Weld). because Weld was a fiscal conservative, supported abortion rights & gay rights.
  • 2005, as governor his stand on abortion changed.
  • 2007 (presidential campaign) his values leaned more conservative.. admiration for the NRA, anti-tax, foreign issues, and trying to side-step Romney-care.

 “The Romney curse was this: His strength lay in his adaptability. In governance, this was a virtue; in a political race, it was an invitation to be called a phony.”

Some points about his changing views, and “adaptabilities”.. fascinate and put fear into me. I know people grow and change to a certain extent over their lives. We all learn from mistakes, and try to improve, most people. But we still do hold true to most core beliefs, no matter how much we try to bend or twist we will still snap back to where we originally stood. Romney is a politician and as a politician his job is to tell people want they want to hear, in order to get those votes. The winner is the one who can bend truth, twist logic, and make people believe whatever you want.. just enough to get that win. So it is a matter of sifting through the proof of past and lining it up to what is now, and trying to see what will come next. That is the hard part of trying to support a candidate. Of course the big issue is we are always stuck with voting against the biggest liar in the end.

Again the BIG thorn in Romney’s side is and will be Romney care, and his opposition to the same force-fed law by a different name under Obama..

Immediately following the March 2010 passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Romney attacked the landmark legislation as “an unconscionable abuse of power” and said the act should be repealed. The hostile attention it held among Republicans created a potential problem for the former governor, since the new federal law was in many ways similar to the Massachusetts health care reform passed during Romney’s term; as one Associated Press article stated, “Obamacare … looks a lot like Romneycare.” While acknowledging that his plan was not perfect and still was a work in progress, Romney did not back away from it, and has consistently defended the state-level health insurance mandate that underpins it. He has focused on its having had bipartisan support in the state legislature, while the Obama plan received no Republican support at all in Congress,and upon it being the right answer to Massachusetts’ specific problems at the time.A Romney spokesperson has stated: “Mitt Romney has been very clear in all his public statements that he is opposed to a national individual mandate. He believes those decisions should be left to the states.”
The concern I have about Romney saying health care mandates should be left to the states is.. HE imposed it on his state, he had the control ONLY there.. not at a federal level. How can we know he would not change or “adapt”  that perspective to enforce a federal mandate, just because he could do it.. just like he did on a state level.. just like Obama did on the federal level. Heck Obama claimed to be against what Hillary proposed, when he ran against her.. but wa-la he went with nearly line for line what he said he was against. So who do you trust? I trust neither.
 
Thinking about the improvement of Massachusetts economy when Romney was governor.. how about after Romneycare was forced on its residents? He did conveniently exit just a year after he shoved it down their throats, so surely he can deny any of the damage during his term. The hard part is the entire country fell into hard economic shape from 2008, and only increasing with our current government making matters worse.
(Sunshine Review) The state has a total state debt of $61,515,259,052 when calculated by adding the total of outstanding debt, pension and OPEB UAAL’s, unemployment trust funds and the 2010 budget gap as of July 2010

The cost of health care is one of the issues Massachusetts has to keep cutting, due to the rising costs. So mandating health care definitely does not keep costs down, it does not reduce the deficit, it does not help the economy and it certainly does not help the people.

2009 article from Masslive, titled “Residents express concern over looming $5.4 billion Massachusetts deficit”  So just a couple of years after Romneycare was forced on Massachusetts the (Massachusetts) deficit to nearly double what it was  back in 2002, before Romneycare.

Note that article was a year before Obama shoved Obamacare down America’s throat.. the information existed, the proof was out there.. which is why they snuck Obamacare behind closed doors.

Glenn Beck  was attacked in an article from 2009 highlighting Romney’s reasons, and how it is killing Massachusetts:

“People who don’t have insurance nonetheless receive health care. And it’s expensive,” he told National Public Radio in 2006. “We’re spending a billion dollars giving health care to people who don’t have insurance. … And my question was: Could we take that billion dollars and help the poor purchase insurance? Let them pay what they can afford. We’ll subsidize what they can’t.”

The article’s attacks on Beck, calling him uninformed, that it is not Health Care mandate that is killing the Massachusetts economy. So what is bloating the deficit? They point out..  Tax revenues had fallen, due to tax cuts from the 1990s (liberals blaming Reagan in that case). They also include the burden of the unemployed. So connect the dots, why would fewer people be employed? Because employers can not afford the staff, due to healthcare (fines/penalties). More people unemployed because it is more cost-effective to opt for state paid health care, vs buy it themselves. So fewer people paying into health care, subsidizing those who can’t pay, increasing the number who need to be subsidized.. requiring more funds from the state to support them.. logically where did those dots take you? They all line right back to that little pebble thrown into the water (mandated healthcare).

On a site called Cato.org, they highlight some of the risks to universal health care, again another 2009 article. The article touches on the added debt, expense, costs, eventually rationing, limits, lack of care.. and yet a year later.. Obamacare!

From Us Government Spending, you can see the debt chart above for Massachusetts. This site has  a lot of fun data to look at, and play with.. here are some numbers for health care spending in Massachusetts over the years.. this shows in less than a decade they nearly doubled what was spent on health care, and just 3 years, Romneycare has added $2billion more to their debt.

  • 2000 $7billion
  • 2001 $7.8 billion
  • 2002 $7.1 billion
  • 2003 $6.3 billion
  • 2004 $9.7 billion
  • 2005 $10.4 billion
  • 2006 $11.2 billion (Romney care start)
  • 2007 $11.8 billion
  • 2008 $12.7 billion
  • 2009 $13.1 billion

Another 2009 article from The Atlantic, talks about the “solutions” Massachusetts planned to fix their budget issue. They want to cut funding in half for mental health programs. The result basically warehousing people. Read the article you will see what the problem with that is, as they interview a man who suffered serious injuries as a child, lives in a limited capacity.. but works, he has a job, he has a life, he has a sense of humor and a value. Now look at the fact that the health care mandate in Massachusetts has inflated the budget by BILLIONs, they want to slice off a couple million from a working program. Wouldn’t it make more sense to kill off their costly, ineffective, economy killing health care mandate program?

More details on Romney Care:

ABC NEWs Blog: I have included a few highlights.. note they are not saying UNDER poverty level, but up to 150% OF the poverty level. And it is the taxpayers who are “subsidizing” that coverage. In other words the state simply passed the expense onto other taxpayers. The costs of coverage have also gone up, bankruptcies went up.. and yet the article notes the residents support this financial rape by their state.

  • Adults up to 150% of the federal poverty level are FULLY subsidized, plus children with parents up to 300% of the federal poverty level.
  • The median health insurance premium for a policy holder in Massachusetts was $442 in 2009, a 21 percent jump from 2005.
  • Bankruptcy filings due to medical costs have also jumped, increasing by more than one-third between 2007 and 2009
  • The law requires that all employers with more than 11 full-time employees make a “fair and reasonable” contribution toward their workers’ health plans or face penalties.
  •  Premiums charged to small businesses since 2006 have risen faster than average, growing by 5.8 percent from 2006 to 2008, compared to a 4.8 percent growth for mid-size companies

A 2010 article from Huffington Post praising Romneycare, but when you read it you will have to ask yourself why? They are nearly saying well they took to me to the hospital after they stabbed nearly to death.

The poll of 696 people found that 31 percent of individuals had a healthcare provider reject their insurance plan and 23 percent were told a doctor was not taking any new patients.
The state health plan, launched under former Governor Mitt Romney, was given high marks for the range of services and the quality of care offered, according to the poll.

The program, Commonwealth Care, is targeted at low-income individuals earning up to $32,676 a year; families of four can qualify with earnings of up to $66,168 a year.
Premiums ranged from $10 to $151 a month, and only 17 percent of those surveyed said they had problems paying their medical bills.

The survey also found that individuals enrolled in Commonwealth Care used the emergency room at about the same rate as all other residents.

The survey was conducted from October 19 to November 30 and had a margin of error of 3.7 percent. It was released by the Massachusetts Health Connector, which helps individuals find insurance coverage.

I am still laughing, Romneycare was given “high marks” for the “range of services & quality of care”.. Well the “range of services are part of the minimum requirements for the required coverage, and these Massachusetts residents are paying for that coverage. YET.. they have providers who won’t take their plan, or can see any more patients! Wow that is great quality there (note sarcasm!).  Also note that survey was given by the same group that provides the gov’t health care in MA.. hum, nothing like surveying your own customer? But that adds to the lack of creditability of the survey and Huffington post. It also should be a concern when Huffington Post is offering kudos to someone who is running under the Republican label.

I love one of the comments that points out how artificial the survey (huffington had posted) was:

The poll Reuters is referring to was not conducted among all Massachuse­tts residents but only among the residents that receive free or mostly free health insurance. The only news in the referenced poll is that 16% of them don’t like their free insurance. Go figure

More reflection on Huffington’s inaccurate article… from Wall Street Journal, more specifically from the state treasurer of Massachusetts, Timothy Cahill:

As state treasurer, I can speak with authority about the Massachusetts pilot program. It has been a fiscal train wreck.

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. Just last Thursday, Gov. Deval Patrick’s office announced a $294 million shortfall related to health-care costs.

If not for federal Medicaid reimbursements and commitments from Washington to prop up this plan, Massachusetts would be broke. The only reason MassCare has survived is that we have been repeatedly bailed out by the federal government. But that raises the question: Who will bail America out if we implement a similar program?

While everyone should have access to affordable health care, our experience in Massachusetts tells us that the new federal entitlement will burden future taxpayers with unfunded liabilities they cannot afford. Health-care inflation will continue. Mandates will increase insurance premiums. And the deficit will reach frightening levels as the law’s costs greatly exceed the projections of its advocates.

As lawmakers push for changes in the bill, they should start by being honest about its costs and focus on making health care more affordable without bankrupting the country.

Another pro/con on Massachussetts insurance/care, from healthinsurance.org:

  • Pro-category: 1 doctor/523 people (but if they keep pulling strings & limitations, it surely won’t stay that way).
  • Con-Category: Since Romney care, children in poverty have increased over 10%.. hum, wonder what influenced that? perhaps the subsidized health care for people in poverty?

From Politico, Romney’s support of Romney care:

  • Romney claims Romney care includes no “gov’t insurance program”, yet the article notes there is a “Commonwealth Care” run by a state agency.
  • Like Obamacare renaming taxes as “fees”.. Romney care has a “fee” against employers who do not participate in “fair share contribution”.

How disturbing do you find the concept of government using the term “contribution” or “volunteer” when they mandate it.. when there is a penalty, fine or tax if you “choose” not to participate??

From 2010 on CNN.com, they compare many of the Romney/Obama common threads, and they discuss how they both features many problems. Highlights..

  • Expanding Medicaid (basically a gov’t welfare version of health insurance, that reduces care, options and more).
  • You will pay for in-vitro & chiropractic care on your plan, whether you want or use it or not.
  • Demand for services increase, while supply does not. Result less care for all!
  • Strangling out better insurance companies & non-profits, because they will end up taking a loss with each new enrollee.
  • Private care providers being squeezed out, the result government-run health institution-clinics.

And there is so much more.. (also from CNN.com) here are highlights from some of the “Lessons” this country should have heeded before heaving Obamacare at us all..

Lesson 1: The Massachusetts plan does not control costs.

 The median annual premium for family plans jumped 10% from 2007 to 2009 to $14,300 — again, that’s a substantial rise on top of an already enormous number. For small businesses, the increase was 12%. In 2006, the state spent around $1 billion on Medicaid, subsidies for medium-to-lower earners, and other health-care programs. Today, the figure is $1.75 billion. The federal government absorbed half of the increase.

Yup.. just 1 year after Romney care the gov’t care option nearly doubled!!

Then you have the mandated loophole.. the fine if you don’t buy the coverage.. ends up for many to be cheaper to just pay the fine, and grab the coverage when they actually need it, then drop it again. How does the government CONSTANTLY miss the logic???? Because this is a complex point.. I am including that lesson in full:

Lesson 2: Community rating, guaranteed issue and mandated benefits swell costs.

How did costs in Massachusetts get so big to begin with? A major reason is the adoption of guaranteed issue and community rating in the mid-1990s. The new federal bill would expand those rules to the entire nation. Under guaranteed issue, insurers must accept all enrollees regardless of their medical condition; under community rating, they must charge all customers similar premiums, even if their costs are far different. The result is that prices rise steeply for young, healthy customers, who must pay far more than their actual costs. It also give them a strong incentive to drop insurance; then they can “game the system” by signing up any time they need surgery or get diabetes.

Hence the pool of insured people gets older and sicker as the healthy drop out. That’s what happened in Massachusetts, and it contributed to soaring premiums. The 2006 reform plan was supposed to solve the problem by requiring that everyone buy coverage or pay a fine of around $1,000. It worked, but only in part: Of the 600,000 uninsured in 2005, around 450,000 are now covered. But a large share of 150,000 who still lack coverage are young residents who choose to pay the fine instead of high premiums. Insurers are also getting socked by people who sign up for insurance to get expensive care mandated under state law, including hospitalization for childbirth or hip replacements, and then depart once the procedure is completed.

In the federal bill, the fines for going uninsured are even lower than in Massachusetts — and anyone who can’t find an inexpensive plan is exempted from all penalties. Hence the “adverse selection” problem could prove far worse.

Here is the subsidy part in more detail.. and when you see the numbers it will give you a bigger gasp..

Lesson 3: Huge subsidies for low-to-medium earners could prove extremely expensive.

One of the most fascinating features of the Massachusetts plan is that it introduced a system of subsidized policies, sold through an insurance “exchange” that’s extremely similar to the one in the new federal plan. Under Commonwealth Care, the state subsidizes plans — offered by private carriers — for residents who earn up to $66,150 who are not covered by employers. The aid is extremely generous. At $44,000, families pay around $1,000 a year in premiums. At the $66,150 maximum, they contribute around $3,000.

The problem is that the actual annual cost of these plans is around $10,000, so the subsides are enormous — that’s 90% for families earning $44,000. And while the costs keep going up, the share paid by the enrollee barely budges. Says Michael Tanner, an economist at the conservative Cato Institute: “It’s a situation where the entire escalation in costs is paid by the government, not the people receiving the care.

The federal plan also subsidizes care provided through state-run exchanges. The patients’ contributions are bigger than in the Mass. plan: A family earning $66,000 would pay $6,300 a year. But the federal plan offers subsidies far higher along the income scale, aiding families of four making up to $88,200. And surprisingly, the federal plans would probably prove a lot more costly than the ones in Massachusetts, where the state prides itself on restraining what they pay by squeezing providers, who then shift the added costs to private customers.

The big problem arises if far more people sign up for these exchange-offered plans than anticipated. That’s been the case in Massachusetts. And as we’ll see in a moment, it could still get a lot worse there. A potential disaster threatens the federal plan if employers start dropping coverage, since a flood of newcomers would rush into the state-funded pools.

Apparently the government has learned NOTHING from welfare abuse. Many welfare cases opt NOT to work, because they can get more money from the government. Many welfare cases do not marry, because their benefit is higher if they are separate individuals vs a combined couple or family.. in fact many will claim their children twice. There are people who are raised on how to manipulate the system, and yet the government, the clueless government, thinks there needs to be more programs, more benefits, more handouts, and more government??? Sure, because we see how well that is working so far.

What else does a universal health care program encourage? It encourages lack of achievement, lack of improvement in one’s life & family, .. because they are penalized if they do.

Lesson 4: The exchanges reward people for working less and earning less.

Data is lacking on how damaging these perverse incentives are in practice. But it’s clear in Massachusetts that low-to-medium earning families often suffer financially if they get a raise, work overtime, move to a higher paying job — or if a spouse rejoins the workforce. For example, a family earning $33,000 pays no premium at all under Commonwealth Care. But if their pay goes to $46,000, they’re obligated to contribute about $2,400. That’s an effective tax rate of 18.5% on that $13,000 raise. A pay increase of $44,000 to $46,000 is mostly erased by higher premiums alone.

The federal bill is plagued by the same weakness. For example, a $55,000 earner contributes $4,400 a year towards insurance. At $65,000, the bill is $6300; so the family is paying a “tax” of $1,900 or 19% on that $10,000 raise. After payroll taxes, those Americans would face a marginal rate of around 35%, a number that’s heretofore been the territory strictly for high-earners.

The other facet is the mandate imposed on businesses, requiring them to offer & contribute to coverage for their employees are risk fees/penalties. On the same coin, if you work for a company that offers coverage, you can’t get the gov’t subsidized version.. you must buy the employer coverage.

Lesson 5: The generous plans and added mandates give employers an incentive to drop health insurance.

In charting the future of health-care costs, the biggest danger by far is that companies will drop their coverage.

  • So how to wiggle around that? Employers drop employees so they don’t fall in the requirement group. Employers pay the fines and reduce costs or increase profit in some manner.
  • Employees can cut hours just enough to not be considered full-time, and or work two part-time jobs.

So what are Massachusetts’ residents required to buy? I found some info on eHow.com

  • Age 18 and over must have coverage, that meets the Minimum Creditable Coverage (MCC) requirements.
  • Either purchase private coverage, through an employer or the publica health plan.
  • 2010 MCC: plans MUST include: basic medical, surgical, preventative care, mental health, substance abuse, prescription medication plan, radiation therapy, & chemotherapy. PLUS hospital & clinic care, ambulatory, inpatient hospitalization, emergency services & procedures, outpatient, anesthesia, blood work, diagnostic, x-rays, and any other doctor ordered tests or screens. PLUS maternity & newborn care.
  • MCC complaint plans must cover preventative care without involving a deductible.
  • Annual deductible (in-network) must be less than $2500/individual or $4k /family.
  • Prescription drug deductible must be less than $250/individual or $500/family.
  • MA requires no cap on total benefit payout per illness.
  • Max out/pocket (up-front deductible) must be less than $5k/individual or $10k/family.

Think about all those items, that would involve an expensive coverage. Those are the requirements, you must buy insurance and it must be a high coverage expensive plan. Thinking about the fact that the government is mandating coverage and you will be penalized for having an expensive plan.. Massachusetts is screwed! Also looking at what your plan in Massachusetts MUST include.. you MUST have substance abuse, maternity, and all these expensive features to your plan..What if you can’t have children? What if you do not use drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol? You still have to pay for a plan that has that coverage!

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