Obamacare vs Romneycare

Just to be clear from the start: I don’t like Romneycare.  I think any time a government thinks it knows better how I should allocate my resources and my priorities than I do, it’s making a grave mistake.  Against that background, I want to look at the “debate” over Obamacare and Romneycare.

Here’s President Obama:

[W]hen you hear all these folks saying, oh, no, no, this is a tax, this is a burden on middle-class families, let me tell you, we know because the guy I’m running against tried this in Massachusetts and it’s working just fine.

Except that it’s not working that well, as President Obama surely knows, since of course he looked into the matter before he began pontificating on it.  Between half and two-thirds of those uninsured before the plan was implemented remain so—not quite universal coverage.  And this failure stems from the same thing that makes Obamacare a failure: it’s cheaper to pay the penalty in MA than it is to get health insurance.  Furthermore, as recently as 2011, National Review Online was reporting that Massachusetts still has the highest health costs in the US.  Mandates and subsidies—here for folks required to buy insurance but can’t afford it—just don’t work, whether implemented by Republicans or Democrats.

Against that baseline, there are major differences between the two programs.

President Obama has inflicted a trillion dollars in tax increases over Obamacare’s first 10 years to cover its cost.  Romneycare didn’t raise taxes at all.

Stan Dorn, of the Urban Institute, claims that Romney got Federal financial help in the form of Federal Medicaid money.  This is disingenuous, though.  Romneycare simply diverted Federal Medicaid funding it already was getting from its originally targeted hospitals (vis., to pay unpaid bills) to subsidies to individuals with which to buy their own policies.  As Josh Archambault, of the Boston-based Pioneer Institute, put it

Affordable insurance on their own.  The federal approach simply put them on the public rolls….

There’s another difference that both candidates are ignoring, and that difference centers on the 10th Amendment.  What one state does for its own citizens, for good or ill, is not a valid reason for the Federal government mandating or proscribing that same thing for all states and all Americans.  Each state, under the 10th Amendment, is free to makes its own decision concerning what is appropriate for its citizens.  Of course, this States’ Rights argument would be wholly irrelevant were the Progressives willing to admit that Obamacare is originally and completely President Obama’s idea, instead of trying to blame it onattribute it to Governor Romney.

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