Massachusetts: The Canary in the Coal Mine for ObamaCare — By Doctor Paul Hsieh

Dr. Paul Hsieh

Doctor Paul Hsieh, an MD who practices in the south Denver metro area, has a deep grasp of the philosophical roots of freedom, both political and economic, and for this reason he despises the left almost as much as he despises the right. Almost. Which is why he infuriated so many of us in 2008 with his outrageous equivocations — equivocations that he’s dearly paying for now.

His equivocations, however, do not preclude him from writing with great limpidity about the subject of healthcare — about which he, being a doctor, is an expert.

The following passage is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the healthcare crisis that we’re now in — and have been in for many decades — and which ObamaCare will only exacerbate a thousandfold.

Massachusetts: The Canary in the Coal Mine for ObamaCare

The ongoing failure of the “universal health care” plan in Massachusetts serves as a clear warning to the rest of America

Five years ago, Massachusetts adopted its “universal health care” plan, which served as the template for President Obama’s subsequent national health care legislation. However, Massachusetts’ problems of rising health costs and worsening access foreshadow similar problems for the rest of America — as well as how to avoid them.

The Massachusetts Medical Society recently reported that the state law has resulted in “longer patient wait times [and] continued difficult access to primary care physicians.” The average wait time in Massachusetts to see an internal medicine physician is now 48 days — double the national average. Over half of primary care practices are no longer accepting new patients. Fewer physicians are accepting the state-run Commonwealth Care and Commonwealth Choice insurance plans. So although Massachusetts politicians frequently boast that they have increased “coverage,” many patients cannot find doctors to provide them with actual medical care.

Meanwhile health costs continue to skyrocket out of control, both for the state government and for privately insured patients. In a recent Forbes article, Sally Pipes notes that over the next 10 years, the plan will cost the state government $2 billion more than predicted. Similarly, prior to the new law insurance prices in Massachusetts increased at a rate 3.7% slower than the national average; after the “reform,” they’re increasing 5.8% faster.

To cut costs, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has proposed replacing the standard payment system with draconian “global budgets” where doctors and hospitals would be given a fixed amount to care for the patients assigned to them. The providers would then keep a portion of the savings if they came under budget (or suffer penalties if they ran over budget) — thus creating morally perverse incentives to deny care to their patients.

The access problems have gotten so bad that the state legislature even considered forcing doctors to accept government-controlled insurance rates as a condition of retaining their state medical licenses (regardless of whether or not the doctors lost money on each patient). As Massachusetts-based health policy analyst Jared Rhoads describes it, this would be responding to the failures created by the government’s insurance mandate by imposing a new “physician mandate.”

Given this hostile practice climate, it is no wonder that many Massachusetts physicians are considering opting out of the government-run system into “concierge practices” — or leaving the state altogether. Dr. Lorraine Schratz, a Massachusetts pediatric cardiologist, noted that half of physicians trained in the state are leaving due to the poor practice environment and poor reimbursements.

Because the ObamaCare national health plan is closely modeled after the Massachusetts plan, we are beginning to see early signs of similar problems developing nationally.

One of the ways ObamaCare will attempt to expand “coverage” will be via dramatically expanding the Medicaid program. But as Medicaid patient Nicole Dardeau recently told the New York Times, “My Medicaid card is useless for me right now…. It’s a useless piece of plastic. I can’t find an orthopedic surgeon or a pain management doctor who will accept Medicaid.” New Orleans ER physician James Aiken similarly noted, “Having a Medicaid card in no way assures access to care.” Once again, politicians can promise theoretical “coverage,” but this is not the same as actual medical care.

Please read the rest of the article here.

Read this to better understand how to truly reform healthcare.


  • Dave Cochrane, UK

    May 13, 2011

    I’m just thankful that my own country hasn’t adopted anything so ill conceived.


  • Dale

    May 13, 2011

    Thanks, Homer, I needed a good laugh.

  • Ray

    May 13, 2011

    Me too.

  • ScummyD

    May 15, 2011

    The (average) people I’ve talked to about this issue that support increased government regulation and control 1. Are totally clueless about the implications if not logical ends to that which they advocate or 2. Don’t care about such abstractions, as they wallow in some sort of inebriated state dreaming of utopian perfection or 3. Both. They lament the fact that not everybody (poor and rich)has equal access to the system while advocating government reforms that ensure limited access for everybody. And they don’t even understand this or are totally oblivious.

    “The access problems have gotten so bad that the state legislature even considered forcing doctors to accept government-controlled insurance rates as a condition of retaining their state medical licenses (regardless of whether or not the doctors lost money on each patient).”

    I’ve always just naturally thought that this very sort of thing was the statists’ intention. Implement reforms under the guise of bettering the system and then exploit the negative repercussions from their reforms to agitate for further government control and a complete take over. That seems to be the way they work in general. Identify a perceived problem, grow government to supposedly fix the problem and then repeat the process, but use the problems their own policies have created as justification for even more power and control.

    Nice article pluck from the Web, Ray. Thanks.

  • ScummyD

    May 15, 2011

    My grandparents recently moved from CA to TX. I was there visiting in early April and asked them about their healthcare plan. Because of the move, they had to find new doctors. They told me that it was nearly impossible to find a Medicare doctor. Can you blame the doctors? They are essentially being forced into a new line of work by the government: charity. Who the hell would ever go into a line of work where the government dictates what they may charge for their services forcing them to loss money? Just one of the many inclusions in the fool’s gold of state run healthcare. And yet half the nations seems to be panning the river as fast as they can looking to cash in on their share.

  • Ray

    May 16, 2011

    Thank you, ScummyD. I always enjoy hearing from you, and I apologize for taking this long to respond. I’ve been balls-deep in Bloody Marys and martinis for four days straight.

    But it’s all behind me now.

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