Did Romneycare Control Health Care Costs?

No. (I hope you were sitting down.) Writes Politico:

Health care costs per capita were 27 percent higher in Massachusetts than in the rest of the country in 2004, two years before the state plan was signed, Holtz-Eakin says. By 2009, it was 30 percent higher than the national average.

The law’s failure to rein in health care costs is widely acknowledged by nonpartisan analysts, as well as conservative critics. But there’s more material for critics to work with if either party wanted to use it. For example, emergency room use has gone up, not down — undermining the law’s effort to get that problem under control by expanding coverage.

State health policy officials issued a report last month showing a 6 percent increase in emergency room use from 2006 to 2010, the first four years when the law was in effect. That figure has confounded proponents of the law, who hoped emergency room care would plummet when residents had access to insurance and primary-care doctors.

Detractors in the Bay State also say the law has done little to dent the surging demand seen by the state’s largest safety-net hospitals.

It’s getting harder for Massachusetts residents to see a doctor, too.

Read “Big ‘Romneycare’ Secret: It Didn’t Rein in Costs.”

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  • BrunoT

    Not a Romney fan. But let’s be fair and look for mitigating factors.
    1. a)Governors don’t control US immigration policy, and immigrants are high users of emergency room facilities.
    b) There may well have been a relative outflow of immigrants from the construction trades in the other faster growing states (the south, nevada, etc) due to the collapse of construction and other related businesses. That could reflect their relative ranking in healthcare costs. Statistics can tell different stories depending on how they’re interpreted.
    2. Governors also can’t directly affect wages for their citizens. As real wages fall and unemployment rises, more become uninsured. It’s possible some states are more affected than others by the economic downturn. This would need to be adjusted for. It’s not surprising a highly regulated state like Mass would have problems creating jobs. No jobs means more public healthcare costs.
    3. Governors work in the real political world. Getting any Republican elected in Mass. was surprising and likely beat the real-world alternative.
    4. The ultimate problem is voters looting the treasury and various interests promoting endless wars. yes, the pols are corrupt, but it takes two to tango. I have no doubt Romney would have little problem cutting taxes, defense, entitlements, and other programs if it would help get him elected. It’s hardly principled, but that’s the reality. The people will have to change first. That won’t happen till we hit rock-bottom, if then.
    5. Do the math. Import 10 million or so mostly unskilled immigrants from latin American countries with mostly socialist cultures, offer them free goodies for their vote, pay them low wages they can’t afford health coverage on, understanding that they vote heavily democrat, and gee, what did we expect? Add in their offspring, and you have a receipe for a failed socialist state. People don’t drop their cultures when they cross a border. They may be no more likely to become “Americanized” than you would be “Saudized” if you moved to take a job there.
    We live in a real world, not the Ivory Tower of academic theory. Politicians have to deal with this reality. Liberarianism has a lot of things to offer. Acceptance of demographic reality isn’t one of them.

  • Travis

    “I’m not a Romney fan, but I’ll apologize for him anyway”

    Oh and nice touch, fingering immigration as the main problem, when we’re talking about MASSACHUSETTS, a state with 10% Hispanic and 76% White population.

  • David

    Historically, a lot of people just can’t resist blaming foreigners for the nation’s problems. It’s a lot easier to blame outsiders than acknowledge internal, systemic problems