| The Associated Press is reporting that the Massachusetts Health Care Price control legislation, supported by the House Republican leadership, is now being used as a model for a federal law. Obama allies are now eying the law, described by the Boston Business Journal as "Soviet-style", as a blueprint for national policy.
The approach broadly resembles a Massachusetts law signed this summer by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick that puts pressure on hospitals, insurers, and other major players to keep rising costs within manageable limits. It could become the Democratic counterpoint to private market strategies favored by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan.
Health costs lie at the heart of budget problems confronting the next president. Health care accounts for 18 percent of the economy and about one-fourth of the federal budget, and many experts believe it can't grow unchecked without harming other priorities. Because the United States spends much more than other advanced countries, there's a consensus that savings from cutting waste and duplication won't harm quality.
"We think of these as the next generation of ideas," said Neera Tanden, who was a senior member of the White House team that helped pass the health law. Tanden is now president of the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank close to the administration.
And of course, if nationally you are opposed to this approach, you'll be branded extreme. Why? A large part because it received "broad bi-partisan support" in Massachusetts. There is a reason that I have been hard on our current minority leadership over this bill. This was the whole reason. It is wrong policy, and their go-along to get along attitude will now be used to bring us price-controls at the national level.
In Massachusetts, the new cost control law has its share of skeptics, but it doesn't seem to have provoked a backlash.
"These global budgets are going to be negotiated between health insurers and providers," said Jay Gonzalez, the state's secretary of administration and finance. "They are agreeing to pay for services in a different way. It isn't rationing. It isn't capping."
It's time for Massachusetts Republicans to offer a competing vision of governance. Something we are not getting at this time.