More Health Care Lessons from Massachusetts

My colleague Joe Sterns sent me an article, in which Mitt Romney again declares Massachusetts health care reform a success, claiming the increase in taxpayer spending was “only” $700 million (assuming a decrease in spending this year). Joe figured this would provoke me to respond, given we have written on RomneyCare, highlighted evidence of its shortcomings, discussed health care reform in Massachusetts and other states at an event last month, and produced a video on the lessons we should learn from these failures.

Of course, I was already prepared, having planned to comment on Grace Marie’s Turner blog post which spotlights three major problems with Massachusetts’ health care reform. Namely, that health care premiums are skyrocketing, that the state is experience a shortfall in medical providers, and the there will be “crowd-out” as employers drop coverage.

There is also the Rasmussen poll where 37% of MA residents think the reforms were a “failure” vs. 26% who think it a success. But I also stumbled across a 2008 survey from Harvard’s School of Public Health, which shows residents are much more favorable to the reforms. But there are even more lessons from that study. While 69% said they “support” the law (vs. 22% “opposed”), respondents were more negative when asked about whether it has helped:

  • People who do not have health insurance – Helping: 45%; Hurting: 33% Not much impact: 14%
  • People who do have health insurance – Helping: 26%; Hurting: 18% Not much impact: 48%
  • Small Businesses – Helping: 13%; Hurting: 56%; Not much impact: 19%
  • Large Corporations – Helping: 19%; Hurting: 11%; Not much impact: 56%
  • Young Adults – Helping: 32%; Hurting: 29%; Not much impact: 28%
  • Poor People – Helping: 44%; Hurting: 31%; Not much impact: 14%
  • The Middle Class – Helping: 27%; Hurting: 26%; Not much impact: 40%
  • Doctors and Hospitals – Helping: 40%; Hurting: 16%; Not much impact: 26%
  • The State Budget – Helping: 14%; Hurting: 39%; Not much impact: 26%
  • You Personally – Helping: 14%; Hurting: 18%; Not much impact: 67%
  • Massachusetts Economy – Helping: 22%; Hurting: 35%; Not much impact: 31%
  • Quality of Health Care in Massachusetts – Helping: 29%; Hurting: 21%; Not much impact: 42%
  • Cost of Health Care in Massachusetts – Helping: 20%; Hurting: 39%; Not much impact: 30%

Given the prevalence of respondents saying the new Massachusetts health care law is hurting or not having much impact, it is difficult to justify why 69% support it. The lesson is this: “Health Care Reform” is a feel-good phrase, people want to support it, even if it will do more harm than good.

Here are reasons why we think the current proposals before Congress are harmful, and what health care reforms we recommend instead.