Obamacare Will Suffer

Health care train wreck’s here


By Michael Graham  |   Tuesday, March 8, 2011  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Op-Ed

Gov. Deval Patrick is absolutely right: Don’t blame Cleve Killingsworth for your insurance premiums going up so high, so fast. Blame the man who’s truly responsible — Deval Patrick.

Killingsworth is the Miami Heat of Massachusetts health care. It’s hard to believe someone that expensive could suck that bad. But as offensive as Killingsworth’s $11 million buyout may be, AFL-CIO president and Blue Cross Blue Shield board member Robert Haynes had it right: “With $13 billion in revenue, it’s like pennies,” he said of the board’s compensation. Complaining about Killingsworth’s incompetence is like complaining about a leaky bathtub on the Titanic.

Besides, Patrick’s never going to throw his friend under the bus. During Patrick’s first campaign, Killingsworth was a leader of his “business cabinet.” After he won, Patrick picked Killingsworth for his “Health Care Transition” team.

So excuse me if I’m not reaching for a pitchfork over Patrick’s “rich health care executive” hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is cheap. It’s Patrick’s health care policy that’s so expensive. When is someone going to notice that Massachusetts’ government-run health care system is a (not so) slow-moving train wreck?

Just last week the Wall Street Journal reported on a new study showing insurance premiums for individuals in Massachusetts “increased 6 percent to 7 percent beyond what they would have without the reform. For small employers, the increases are about 14 percent beyond those in the rest of the nation. Four years after reform, Massachusetts still has the highest insurance premiums in the nation, and the gap is getting wider.”

Last week former Patrick aide Doug Rubin tried to defend the governor by claiming, “He’s one of the few people to take immediate steps to lower health-care costs.” But according to Fortune magazine, we’ve had double-digit increases in health care costs since Patrick took office.

Worse, many of the newest customers aren’t paying their own premiums — they’re subsidized by taxpayers. The health care buffet is open and they’re eating for free.

We were told that health care reform would lower costs because, for example, fewer people would use the emergency room for primary care. Instead, trips to the emergency room went up as more people used their insurance more often.

So now Patrick is proposing medical prices set by fiat, “global payments” and a government board deciding how much medical professionals should get paid. But when asked what he thought about Blue Cross paying Killings- worth the $11 million, Patrick replied: “I’m not going to get into managing individual companies or individual compensation.”

And you thought he was being hypocritical about Blue Cross?

With Patrick’s latest, radical health care proposals, we won’t have to worry about what non-profit insurers are paying their management because there won’t be any left in Massachusetts. Correction: there will be one left. The government.

Michael Graham hosts a talk show on 96.9 WTKK.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/opinion/op_ed/view.bg?articleid=1321768