Health Care Reform the Right Rx?

New Mexico State Senator Dede Feldman (D-ABQ), one of the state’s leaders on the health care issue, had an interesting opinion piece in the Albuquerque Journal on Thursday.
While her arguments don’t necessarily hold together individually, she ultimately decides that “Democrats (who control the Legislature) should trust one another enough to roll up their sleeves…and draw on a basic common value: affordable, quality health-care should be accessible to everyone.” Her arguments are worth analyzing.
1) Mandating that individuals purchase health care is key. While there will be “winners and losers in the short term, costs will ultimately be lowered for everyone.” Unfortunately, the Senator is engaging in some wishful thinking here. Mitt Romney’s reform in Massachusetts relied on an individual mandate that has failed to lower costs. Rather than winners and losers as Feldman hopes, we’ll all lose with an individual mandate;
2) Regarding the concerns of other Democrats and their concerns about the ability of low-income New Mexicans to purchase insurance under an individual mandate, Feldman calls such questions “wonkish” and calls the loss of this mandate “regrettable.” No solutions for this very real problem are offered;
3) Feldman’s last important point is that there is “broad agreement among Democrats, but not Republicans” that health insurance companies should be forced to insure everyone and that 85 percent of insurance companies’ revenues must be allocated to purchasing health care.
She credits the Richardson Administration for “getting the insurance companies to agree, at least partially,” but she doesn’t explain that the only reason the insurance companies are willing to go along with this in the first place is that since we’ll all be forced to buy health insurance, those companies will have a captive market and will be able to charge whatever they wish. Since the insurance companies are “playing nice,” they are assuming that they’ll get favored treatment when it comes time for rate increases which will inevitably be subsidized heavily by taxpayers.
Feldman asks or at least mentions some of the key questions in the health care debate. Unfortunately, she seems to dismiss these concerns in an almost single-minded effort to obtain “universal coverage” for New Mexicans. If she gets her way, we’ll not only be poorer, but we’ll have fewer doctors in the state to treat us. We can’t afford this “reform.”

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