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  • Obamacare: The Maine Experiment

    Today’s Wall Street Journal reviews the results from Maine’s experiment with Obamacare:

    In 2003, the state to great fanfare enacted its own version of universal health care. Democratic Governor John Baldacci signed the plan into law with a bevy of familiar promises. By 2009, it would cover all of Maine’s approximately 128,000 uninsured citizens. System-wide controls on hospital and physician costs would hold down insurance premiums. There would be no tax increases. The program was going to provide insurance for everyone and save businesses and patients money at the same time.

    Here’s how the program was supposed to work. Two government programs would cover the uninsured. First the legislature greatly expanded MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program. Today Maine families with incomes of up to $44,000 a year are eligible; 22% of the population is now in Medicaid, roughly twice the national average.

    Then the state created a “public option” known as DirigoChoice. (Dirigo is the state motto, meaning “I Lead.”) This plan would compete with private plans such as Blue Cross. To entice lower income Mainers to enroll, it offered taxpayer-subsidized premiums. The plan’s original funding source was $50 million of federal stimulus money the state got in 2003. Over time, the plan was to be “paid for by savings in the health-care system.” This is precisely the promise of ObamaCare. Maine saved by squeezing payments to hospitals and physicians.

    The program flew off track fast. At its peak in 2006, only about 15,000 people had enrolled in the DirigoChoice program. That number has dropped to below 10,000, according to the state’s own reporting. About two-thirds of those who enrolled already had insurance, which they dropped in favor of the public option and its subsidies. Instead of 128,000 uninsured in the program today, the actual number is just 3,400. Despite the giant expansions in Maine’s Medicaid program and the new, subsidized public choice option, the number of uninsured in the state today is only slightly lower that in 2004 when the program began.

    Why did this happen? Among the biggest reasons is a severe adverse selection problem: The sickest, most expensive patients crowded into DirigoChoice, unbalancing its insurance pool and raising costs. That made it unattractive for healthier and lower-risk enrollees. And as a result, few low-income Mainers have been able to afford the premiums, even at subsidized rates.

    This problem was exacerbated because since the early 1990s Maine has required insurers to adhere to community rating and guaranteed issue, which requires that insurers cover anyone who applies, regardless of their health condition and at a uniform premium. These rules—which are in the Obama plan—have relentlessly driven up insurance costs in Maine, especially for healthy people.

    The Maine Heritage Policy Center, which has tracked the plan closely, points out that largely because of these insurance rules, a healthy male in Maine who is 30 and single pays a monthly premium of $762 in the individual market; next door in New Hampshire he pays $222 a month. The Granite State doesn’t have community rating and guaranteed issue.

    One proposal to get people into the DirigoChoice system is to reduce the premiums, presumably to give the uninsured a larger incentive to join. But that would explode the program’s costs when it already can’t pay its bills. A program that was supposed to save money by reducing health-care waste and inefficiencies has seen a 74% increase in premiums. But even those inflated payments can’t keep the program out of the red.

    Exploding health care costs, bankrupt governments, and less consumer choice. That is what happened with the Obamacare approach in Maine, and Tennessee, and Hawaii. Why does the left insist on forcing the rest of the nation to repeat these same mistakes.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Obamacare: The Maine Experiment

    1. Pingback: » Financial News Update - 08/20/09 NoisyRoom.net: Where liberty dwells, there is my country…

    2. Roger S., Ma. says:

      "Exploding health care costs, bankrupt governments, and less consumer choice. That is what happened with the Obamacare approach in Maine, and Tennessee, and Hawaii. Why does the left insist on forcing the rest of the nation to repeat these same mistakes." ??????????!!!!!!!!!

      Because it has NEEDS:

      To satisfy an agenda.

      To serve an ideology.

      To "collectivize" the unable with the able.

      To hide own inability (by eliminating the able).

      To salve its ego.

      To establish its power over the looted.

      To hide past looting.

      To make future looting easier.

      To create (and feed) false "self-esteem".

      To appear "productive" without having to sweat.

      To appear "creative" without having to think.

      To buy the next election.

      To obtain power.

      To stay in power.

      To "save the planet".

      To feel "important".

      To become "important".

      To remain "important".

      To "do good".

      To "punish" Capitalism.

      To "prove" they were always right.

      To hide their fear of life.

      The list is long and could get longer. The number of combinations and permutations of any or all of these, plus a lot as yet unmentioned, approaches infinity. If none of it works, that will be the fault of "greedy Capitalists". Bet?

    3. Tom Iowa says:

      The great Maine experiment. Did'nt work and won't work for America. Two monthsa ago I gave all of this info to Bruce Brailey and Tom Harkin of Iowa. Both democrats and I asked them both if either one of them had read the health bill, front to back or at all? Tom thanked me for writing and said that hbelieves that we need health reform and then voted to pass it through his commiteel. I told Bruce that I wanted to here from him personaly and not a staffer or intern. To date, no answer from him and he also voted for this Monster. I voted for both of these men in the last election, but that mistake will not happen again.

      PEOPLE, We need to get on our Congressmen and Senators and stay on them. If they do not do as we ask, vote their butts out..

    4. John Roane Sarasota says:

      At least Maine had the sense to cancel it, will the US Congress have as much???

    5. Pingback: ObamaCare: Warnings from State Programs « The View from Southern California

    6. Frank Wasicki says:


    7. Marshall Hill MI. says:

      Can we spell Unconstitutional?

    8. OPAS says:

      Roger S., Ma. writes:

      Why does the left insist on forcing the rest of the nation to repeat these same.

      Wake up, here's your Answer!!! This has been planned for years, Go back to when Joe McCarthy fought the leftist Hollywood and the liberal press railroaded him with lies and restarted organizing the take over of our country. This is not a health plan to help you, it is part of suckering you into joining them. Remember this, where this no benefit for doing something, there is A MOTIVE! Motive? Kruschev told you the motive, and warned you that your children were being indoctrinated "to take over our Government from with in, using our own Congress, and Senate and Judges. Now those children are older and you call them LIBERALS. That is very nice of you. One more thing, while your children were being indoctrinated you were very tolerant about it, but now they are not tolerant of you. Yes, the tolerated are not tolerant. You better vote every Democrat and some of the Republicans out of office next election. A clean house needs a clean sweep.

    9. Roger S., Ma. says:

      OPAS: I was only quoting Conn Carroll.

      All the same, add this NEED to the list:

      "To be intolerant of the tolerant"

      One might ask, why, and some might even think an advanced degree in psychology needed to understand, but I think this will do:

      Your statement "…the tolerated are not tolerant" implies the need to rise above the (just barely) tolerated status. The left resents having merely been tolerated all these years and has taken great pains to 1) get even (add to list) and 2) ensure it can never again be bumped back into a status of irrelevance. (add, "escape irrelevance" to the list) As I see it, it will be our task to prove it wrong again, this time for keeps!

      To do this, let's start making it clear to them that: "we don't need you; you need us, and we don't feel guilty about it. If you feel "entitled", go work; whatever you earn, that's your "entitlement", and so on." For starters, voting out almost every incumbent IS a good idea. Heritage might be helpful researching and posting the handful who've been consistently honest and at least been trying to pay attention to the Constitution. Won't be many, I agree.

    10. Pingback: Townhall Stand Tall: Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) Applauded for his Anti-Single Payer Stance | Conservative Principles Now

    11. John Roane Sarasota says:

      Where is page 52 of the VA "Your life your choice? Does anyone know or post a copy. I can no longer find it. This spin doctors must have it.

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