Monday, January 28, 2008

Cost of Romney's Mass. Health-care Plan Skyrocketing

According to recent reports, the cost of Massachusetts' health insurance mandate will rise 85 percent, or $400 million, in 2009. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), meanwhile, has been on the presidential campaign trail praising the program he put into place.

According to The Boston Globe, the cost increase is largely due to an increase in the number of people signing up for state-subsidized health insurance. State and federal taxpayers are likely to shoulder the cost increase.

"Essentially, the people who signed up under the mandate were the people who were getting subsidies," said Michael Tanner, director of health and welfare studies at the libertarian Cato Institute.

Carmen Balber, a consumer advocate at Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, added, "What we've seen happen in Massachusetts is that lots of people are signing up for subsidized care," although "just 7 to 8 percent of the people who have newly signed up for health insurance have enrolled in a program they must pay full price for."

Tanner told Cybercast News Service that the state will likely need to raise taxes to cover the additional costs.

Romney, however, has been campaigning on the health insurance plan as a success.

"We put in place a plan that gets every citizen in our state health insurance, and it didn't cost us new money," he said during the Republican debate in New Hampshire on Jan. 5. "It didn't require us to raise taxes."

Mitt Romney likes to brag that he got universal coverage in Massachusetts without a tax increase," said Tanner. "I don't think that's going to be true for long."
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