Bartlett's "Healthscare" facts are skewed [Letter to the Editor]

Editor's note: The following letter was received in response to Richard C. Barlett's Op Ed entitled "Healthscare".

To the Editor:

Richard C. Bartlett of Cotuit (Op-Ed: "Healthscare") is wrong on the facts of the health care debate:

1. Bartlett claims only 1% of Massachusetts' citizens are uninsured. Gov. Patrick never claims better than 2%. The correct number, verified by both the Census Bureau and Connector Authority, is around 4%-5%, only a few percent better than before RomneyCare was passed.

2. The increase in the number of insured was accomplished by giving away free (and effectively free) insurance.  The only mystery is why another 100,000 people who qualify won't take the free insurance.

3. One of the "tinkered with" RomneyCare provisions Bartlett mentions is adding open enrollment so that people can't game the system and buy health insurance in the ambulance. Massachusetts legislators found the lack of open enrollment added a couple of percent to premium prices. Why does ObamaCare allow this?

4. Bartlett says ObamaCare “(freed) everyone from worry" ObamaCare still doesn't cover 30,000,000 people. All this disruption and it doesn't do what it promises.

5. Bartlett has facts about Medicare "reform" wrong:

  • First, Medicare is already a very complex premium support (he calls it voucher) system involving three, four or more insurance companies for many seniors.
  • Second, ObamaCare already "emasculates" Medicare by cutting Part C funding and rationing or fixing the prices of A/B services.
  • Third, the president (and some Republicans) also proposes to gut Medigap so that it no longer fills the gaps.
  • Fourth, instead what some conservatives (and liberals such as Oregon’s Ron Wyden) want to do is simplify the current premium support system, and provide choices the way the Part D drug plan does (in fact it's even better than D; if you choose the low price plan, the government will give you money back)
  • Fifth, I have no idea where he is getting his 68% price increase statistic.  I think he means that just like Part B premiums, and retiree insurance and Medigap prices go up every year now, they're going to keep going up.  That's life! We seniors didn't just fall off the turnip truck.

6. Most absurdly Bartlett says opposition of ObamaCare is "a generous bribe for the health insurance industry. More bonuses for CEOs…" How do you figure?  The insurance companies nationwide strongly favored ObamaCare because it puts 25,000,000 more people on their rolls. They don't want to see it thrown out. But -- even if they did -- it doesn't matter in Massachusetts.  Currently almost all of us are insured by non-profits with their finances closely controlled by the state.

One thing I agree with Bartlett about: "instead the obstructionist party simply disowns their own best ideas." This explains the Democrat's continuing opposition to the highly popular and successful Medicare Part D.

Dennis Byron
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