A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

House of the Whopper

House of the Whopper

June 12, 2009

Last night some Republicans took the floor of the US House of Representatives to attack health reform. It's what the House calls "Special Orders." The chamber is empty, and the real audience is the C-Span junkies and the partisans of the cause being talked about.

In the middle of the discussion, mostly irrelevant attacks on the English and Canadian system, with some side forays into medical malpractice and over-regulation (source), up pops Massachusetts (Congressional Record transcript below):

Mr. DENT. The gentleman, Mr. Kirk from Illinois, pointed out an interesting point. He mentioned the Massachusetts health care experiment. What they did in Massachusetts, they had a universal mandate for coverage, but they did not do anything to deal with the cost issue.

So what happened in Massachusetts is while the numbers of those who were being provided coverage through the various programs in Massachusetts through the mandates, those costs rose, but the ability of the taxpayers to meet those rising costs, of course, was limited. So what does the government do? It restricts care, it denies treatment, it denies service, it rations care. That is sort of a microcosm in Massachusetts of what happens in perhaps some other Western European countries or perhaps even Canada.

We don't know where these guys are getting this nonsense, that Massachusetts is rationing care. Let's refute it with real data, from the latest study on the impact of health reform from the Urban Institute and BCBS Foundation:

Consistent with the sustained increase in insurance coverage under health reform in Massachusetts, there also have been sustained improvements in access to care. Under health reform, working-age adults 18 to 64 in Massachusetts (hereafter adults) were more likely to report that they had a usual place to go when sick or in need of advice about their health, a measure of continuity of health care (up 4.5 percentage points between Fall 2006 and Fall 2008). They were also more likely to have had doctor visits in the last 12 months, with the likelihood of having any doctor visit up by 5.1 percentage points and multiple doctor visits up by 4.9 percentage points. Similarly, there were increases in the likelihood of having a preventive care visit (up 6.0 percentage points) and a dental care visit (up 7.6 percentage points) by Fall 2008.

But by spewing it on the floor of Congress, these lies enter the public discourse, where they become hard to remove. The Massachusetts House delegation needs to contact their colleagues, and urge them to set the record straight.
-Brian Rosman