Monday, November 22, 2004
Romney's Last Stand

To avoid completely disappearing into the miasma of irrelevance, Willard Mitt needs a win.

So yesterday, in a 'thanks-for-the-help-now-scram' slap at the Boston Herald, Romney leaked an exclusive to the Boston Globe outlining his "Plan for Massachusetts health insurance reform." (source: Boston Globe, 11/21/2004)

The Plan, which Romney claims to have been working on for more than a year (sort of like his invisible auto insurance reform?), would purportedly "not cost taxpayers more money" and have four main components:

1. provide bare-bones coverage to workers not now covered by allowing plans without costly "bells and whistles" and state enforced "carrots and sticks."

Romney, however, did not describe the bell and whistles he would leave out of this coverage. For example, would mammograms be considered an unnecessary luxury? How about flu shots? Or birth control? Would Willard Mitt agree to take this bare-bones coverage for his own family, or is it just for "those people" who can't get 'good' coverage??

2. use this bare-bones plan to extend the length of coverage the state offers the unemployed.

Tell it to someone who has short-term memory loss. Not too long ago, Team Reform wanted to reduce benefits for the unemployed. Now he wants to increase them? What a difference an election year drubbing makes.

3. replace the Uncompensated Care Pool with something called Safety Net Care.

Zounds. Not too long ago, Romney's answer to health care involved increasing private sector contributions to the UCP and reducing Medicaid reimbursement rates. (source: MPHA, February 2004) Okay, so this suggestion is better than that. Kind of. Now Romney wants to replace the narrow, expensive hospital based UCP with a larger, cheaper network of clinics and community health centers. Assuming the cost issue stops being a cost issue, how will this plan stop the hordes from the 'live free and get your health care from somewhere else' state of New Hampshire who have been flooding Massachusetts hospital emergency rooms from flooding Massachusetts' clinics and community health centers? And how will Romney pay for this expanded coverage? Remember, it will "not cost taxpayers more money." Wonder how much it'll cost feepayers. Wonder how many new feepayers will be created throughout the Commonwealth.

4. cut costs by boosting fraud detection, introducing malpractice reform, introducing first-in-the-nation electronic records, and crack down on asset transfers made to meet poverty criteria.

Wait a minute, Romney's been Fraud Governor for two years now, and he admits he hasn't been doing enough to detect health care fraud? So what other basic functions is Team Reform not performing?

As for malpractice reform, isn't this just another name for Tort Reform, that chestnut every Republican trots out to pretend they are going to do something that they never end up doing? And didn't Romney try going to this well already?

And why do we think that there's a Team Reform insider about to cash in on that electronic records thing? And are privacy concerns the only reason why 49 percent of practicing physicians in Massachusetts say they have no interest in pursuing this 'reform?'

As for the asset transfer policy, Romney already tried to ram this down our collective throat. Here's an idea: stop beating up Grandma and Grandpa Taxpayer, already. Let them keep their homes.

Willard Mitt needs a win. So he's cobbling together a host of policies that have previously been rejected and calling them a reform package.

Here's what we think: the Legislature should give Romney exactly what he claims he wants: pass the 'health care reform' package in total, 100 percent complete. Even if it's no more than an airy press release. And sunset it until November 8, 2006. Let the taxpayers experience the Romney vision until the next statewide Election Day.

Let's see what that does to the GOP's corner office winning streak.


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