No health care miracles

Much was made of Massachusetts’ statewide health care plan when it was voted in under the direction of then-Gov. Mitt Romney. There was talk that it would be a model for other states.

How has it worked out?

Judging by an article in the Boston Globe today, it’s worked out so well it’s not working out so well.

In the first year, the program for low-income people has enrolled nearly 160,000, far more than anticipated, and state officials have estimated that the cost could run as high as $619 million for the current fiscal year, $147 million over budget.

The agency that administers the program is on the verge of cutting payments to doctors and hospitals, reducing choices for patients, and perhaps increasing the cost to state residents.

Under the law, residents are required to have some kind of health insurance.

No such law exists in Minnesota, of course. MinnesotaCare was a popular program for the uninsured in the state, but the budget crunch several years ago, led to a raid on the health care access fund by no-new-taxes lawmakers to help balance the state budget. Though the Legislature has regularly debated health care in the state, early signs for the ’08 legislative session do not suggest much agreement is coming anytime soon.

And the problems in Massachusetts make it unlikely it will be used as a model plan.