This blog overcomes the attempts from those on both the left and right of the political spectrum to use statistics to impose needless changes on one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
Massachusetts Health Stats is an as-needed look at statistics about the Massachusetts healthcare delivery and insurance market and industry, including -- occasionally -- aspects of Medicare as they relate to Massachusetts seniors and the Medicare-eligible disabled.
For Medicare-specific information with nationwide implications and some how-to hints for seniors see http://byrondennis.typepad.com/theabcsofmedicare/
RomneyCare Lies: An Anatomy of Deceit from Blue Cross of Massachusetts
A normal person reading these words on a Boston NPR web site:
"Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation (MTF), says (in a report paid for by Blue Cross that) the state has spent just $91 million more a year since 2006 to cover the uninsured, than it was spending before the law passed" (underlining added by Byron)
would assume that Mr. Widmer means the state of Massachusetts spent $1 billion in 2006 before RomneyCare (that's what the underlying referenced report says was the base year expense for covering the health care of the working poor in the state), around $1.091 billion in 2007, around $1.182 billion in 2008, $1.273 billion in 2009, $1.364 billion in 2010, and $1.455 billion in 2011.
That's what the Blue Cross PR agency wanted the press to think.
Because as a result you might conclude that costs are "only going up" 10% or so a year. But Pioneer Institute and a Tufts University professor called Widmer on his deceitful RomneyCare quote. In reality, the underlying report indicates that the state of Massachusetts budgeted and spent almost $2 billion in 2011 vs. $1 billion in 2006. Mr. Widmer and the press that bought into the deceit -- such as the left-wing Kaiser Health News (a front for another insurance company) -- is playing a couple of word/math tricks on you. Kaiser even doubled down on the deceit by saying that the $91 million was the total extra cost for all five years.
The trick is that in Mr. Widmer quote, $91 million only refers to the state's share. But he's talking about the total cost, including the Federal share, when the words "a billion-dollars" are used. The Blue Cross report does not provide the base number for the state's share but reading carefully, you find that Massachusetts state spending for RomneyCare went up 20% a year from 2006 to 2011. And is still skyrocketing.
That lying by Widmer and Kaiser is only a symptom of a bigger issue. Of course it is crazy to segregate the state share from the federal share and not also take into account the effect on personal and municipal budgets of RomneyCare. Using such cock-eyed accounting, Kaiser or Widmer characterize the out-of-control spending in average, per-year increments rather than expressing it the way a respectable, responsible reporter such as Matt Murphy at State House News did:
"The report... found that Massachusetts spent $453 million more in state tax dollars in fiscal 2011 (than in 2006) on programs that can be directly attributable to the health care reform law..."
Murphy captured both the absolute magnitude of the incremental expense and the fact that there is a much larger expense that is indirectly attributable to the failed Romney program. The Boston Globe and other sites fell for the Blue Cross PR trick but quickly corrected their errors when advised of them.
Only the most intellectually dishonest supporters of RomneyCare would play this game. But I think "intellectually dishonest supporter" is an example of an oxymoron (or some such fancy word) when it comes to RomneyCare.