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|Sat, 03-20-2010 - 1:30am|
By The Associated Press
March 16, 2010, 12:42PM
BOSTON – The Massachusetts treasurer said Tuesday that Congress will “threaten to wipe out the American economy within four years” if it adopts a health-care overhaul modeled after the Bay State’s.
Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill – a former Democrat running as an independent for governor ��� said the local plan enacted in 2006 has succeeded only because of huge subsidies and favorable regulatory changes from the federal government.
“Who, exactly, is going to bail out the federal government if this plan goes national?” he asked.
Cahill made his remarks after Gov. Deval L. Patrick, a Democrat, accused him and Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker of being silent amid the state and national health care debates.
Cahill cited quotations in which he has called for the state to abandon its plan, and for the federal government not to match it.
He also gave reporters a copy of a recent state ledger sheet, showing the state’s Medicaid program ballooning from $7.5 billion to a projected $9.2 billion since the plan was adopted. Meanwhile, of the 407,000 newly insured, only 32 percent paid for private insurance wholly by themselves.
The remainder have received partial or total taxpayer subsidies to buy the insurance coverage required by the plan.
The Obama administration is asking the House and Senate to approve a national plan that includes a similar “individual mandate,” as well as an entity designed to match buyers with private health insurance plans.
Cahill said the Massachusetts equivalent, the Connector, had assisted only 5 percent of those who bought private insurance without any type of government assistance.
And he said that while the Massachusetts program has increased access to health insurance, it has nothing to rein in underlying cost increases, meaning it is steering more people to a broken system.
“If President (Barack) Obama and the Democrats repeat the mistake of the health insurance reform adopted here in Massachusetts on a national level, they will threaten to wipe out the American economy within four years,” the treasurer said.
Cahill’s comments came as the administration launched three days of hearings on rising health care costs in Massachusetts that threaten the 2006 law.
Patrick said the state has to come up with ways to ease the burden of soaring premiums on struggling businesses, individuals and families. Insurance premiums in Massachusetts rose more than 12 percent over a two-year period.
“We have to stop the sharp annual rise in health care costs and find lasting solutions,” the governor said.
Despite the rising costs of health care, businesses in Massachusetts continue to offer insurance to their workers at far higher rate than employers in other states, according to the state Division of Health Care Finance and Policy.
In 2009, 76 percent of Massachusetts employers offered insurance to their employees, compared with 60 percent of employers nationwide.
Part of the problem of rising costs is that private health plans can pay widely different prices for the same procedure, according to HCFP Commissioner David Morales.
In 2008, the price paid for a normal delivery ranged from just over $3,000 to nearly $9,000. The highest price for a gastric-bypass procedure was more than seven times the lowest.