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A liberal meets health care reality


Over at, former Democratic speechwriter Wendy Button reaches a remarkable conclusion for a liberal, following her collision with the economic and political reality of government-controlled health care.

Button spends the first part of her note describing how in Washington, DC, her private HMO health coverage took care of her, at a very reasonable insurance premium, through several different medical problems she suffered (including both physical and mental health issues.)

She then moved to Massachusetts, the poster child for government-controlled health care, only to find insurance costs so high that she could not (and still can not) afford to buy health insurance.  Button accurately notes “While the state has the lowest rate of uninsured, a report by the Commonwealth Fund states that Massachusetts has the highest premiums in the country. The state’s budget is a mess and lawmakers had to make deep cuts in services and increase the sales tax to close gaps. The number of people needing assistance has at times overwhelmed the state. The mandate means that some people who can’t afford insurance are now being slapped with a fine they also can’t afford.”

I always appreciate liberals who honestly share their realizations arising from contact with economic reality, and Ms. Button’s realization is an important one:

What makes this a double blow is that my experience contradicts so much of what I wrote for political leaders over the last decade. That’s a terrible feeling, too. I typed line after line that said everything Massachusetts did would make health insurance more affordable. If I had a dollar for every time I typed, “universal coverage will lower premiums,” I could pay for my own health care at Massachusetts’s rates.

Button, who has written for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards calls for Congress to “start over” and to pay attention to the lessons of Massachusetts – the lessons of a failure of government, not a failure of the market.

If enough other liberals are willing to be this honest, maybe enough Democratic senators will shy away from supporting Obamacare in any of its current forms and get on the path of doing something good and important rather than just doing something for the sake of preserving President Obama’s dwindling political capital.


On a side note, one has to wonder how the disaster of Massachusetts’ “Commonwealth Care” plan will affect Mitt Romney’s presidential ambitions.  If I were a GOP primary challenger to Romney, I’d beat him over the head for his support of socialized medicine and draconian penalties on his citizens.  If I were Romney, I’d respond that subsequent governors and legislatures turned the plan into something it wasn’t supposed to be.  It’s a weak argument, but probably the best he has under the circumstances.  Romney will only be reaping what he sowed. He can probably overcome the issue, but it’s unfortunate that the issue is even around because of the likely candidates for the GOP nomination in 2012, Romney will probably be the one with the best understanding of business and economics.  It makes it all the more remarkable that he supported such a stupid plan.