What We Can Learn About Socialized Medicine From Massachusetts

Given that Medicare is already on track to bankrupt the United States, you’d think the government would be looking to reduce its health care responsibilities, not increase them. However, the government being the government, is looking to take over the rest of our health care system in a move that would spike costs, ruin the quality of care, and involve the government even more deeply in the daily lives of Americans.

However, let’s take a look at how the state government in Massachusetts, where they have Romneycare — which incidentally, is looking less and less appealing — to see how things are going:

A hospital that serves thousands of indigent Massachusetts residents sued the state on Wednesday, charging that its costly universal health care law is forcing the hospital to cover too much of the expense of caring for the poor.

The hospital, Boston Medical Center, faces a $38 million deficit for the fiscal year ending in September, its first loss in five years. The suit says the hospital will lose more than $100 million next year because the state has lowered Medicaid reimbursement rates and stopped paying Boston Medical “reasonable costs” for treating other poor patients.

…According to the suit, Massachusetts is now reimbursing Boston Medical only 64 cents for every dollar it spends treating the poor. About 10 percent of the hospital’s patients are uninsured — down from about 20 percent before the law’s passage in 2006. But many more are on Medicaid or Commonwealth Care, the state-subsidized insurance program for low-income residents.

One of the state’s reimbursement rates to Boston Medical, dropped from $12,476 in 2008 to $9,323 by 2009, the suit says.

…”At a time when everyone funded and served by state government is being asked to do more with less, B.M.C. has been treated no differently,” said Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, the state secretary of health and human services, in a prepared statement. “We are confident that the administration’s actions in this area comply with all applicable law and will be upheld.”

State officials have suggested that Boston Medical could reduce costs by operating more efficiently. The state has also pointed out that the hospital has reserves of about $190 million, but Tom Traylor, the hospital’s vice president of federal and state programs, said the reserves could only sustain the hospital for about a year.

What you see here is how the government “reduces costs.” They cut off all your other options and then refuse to pay you what you’re worth. In other words, it’s “We control you now, so we’ll be paying you less. Find a way to learn to live with it.”

You also have to really love that last paragraph,

State officials have suggested that Boston Medical could reduce costs by operating more efficiently. The state has also pointed out that the hospital has reserves of about $190 million, but Tom Traylor, the hospital’s vice president of federal and state programs, said the reserves could only sustain the hospital for about a year.

The state of Massachussetts has a 5 billion dollar deficit. Boston Medical has $190 million in reserve. Yet, it’s the government officials suggesting that Boston Medical learn to operate more efficiently while they underpay them by such a large amount that they’re forcing them into the red.

The attitude is also rather notable. They’re not treating Boston Medical like a business they’re paying for a service; they’re treating them like beggars, rattling the tin cup. “Geeze, we just gave you a dollar. You want a five-spot now? Give me a break, I’m saving that for lunch. Go get a job, you bum!” Except that Boston Medical already has a job, they’re doing it for the government, and they’re not getting paid.

So, what are the results of that going to be?

1) They could continue to work hard as they slide in bankruptcy and burn through their cash reserves. Then, they could continue to work for free. I hate to tell you liberals this, but somehow, that doesn’t seem likely.

2) They could figure out a way to ditch these customers they’re not getting paid adequately to treat. However, that’s going to be difficult to well nigh impossible for Boston Medical under the system in Massachussetts.

3) They could save money by dramatically reducing the quality of their care. They could have less doctors on staff. Less nurses. Less people to clean the rooms. They could use substandard medical equipment. Pay for less training. Have longer times inbetween operations. Look for ways to avoid expensive operations.

Want to see the future of American medical care if the Democrats get their way? Look very, very hard at number 3.

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