Tag Archives: Massachusetts health care reform

RomneyCare vs. ObamaCare

Can you tell the difference?


Mitt Romney has gone to great lengths to distance his Massachusetts health plan from the ObamaCare Act, without specifically or even generally, providing any insight whatsoever into what he perceives to be the  differences, so I guess it is up to us to try and do that. The facts appear to be that there are an awful lot of similarities between the plan he signed in Massachusetts in 2006, and the one that President Barack Obama signed in 2010.

Key among them: Both leave in place the major insurance systems; employer-provided insurance, Medicare for seniors and Medicaid for the poor. They both seek to reduce the number of uninsured by expanding Medicaid, and by offering tax breaks to help moderate income people buy insurance. In both cases, people are required to buy insurance or pay a penalty, via  a mechanism called the “individual mandate” in ObamaCare, and “individual responsibility” in RomneyCare.  My editorial assistant would argue Romney’s camp had the better messaging. And finally, companies that don’t offer insurance to employees have to pay fines, with exceptions for very small business (10 employees or less) and a few other weird cases.

Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

Let’s see if you have survived the media onslaught and can tell the difference between ObamaCare and RomneyCare. Here are 12 descriptions of the plans that I got from digging through the legislation that created the two plans, official summaries, private reports and recorded interviews with experts. See if you can tell whether each description is for ObamaCare or RomneyCare.

1. “Individuals who are deemed able to afford health insurance but fail to comply, are subject to penalties for each month of non-compliance in the tax year … . The penalties, which will be imposed through the individual’s personal income tax return, shall not exceed 50% of the minimum monthly insurance premium.”

2. Employers “who employ 11 or more full-time equivalent employees” and do not make a “fair and reasonable contribution” to their employees’ health insurance (whatever that means) are required to pay a fine.

3. “Tax credits to make it easier for the middle class to afford insurance will become available for people with income between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty line who are not eligible for other affordable coverage.” Yeah – read that 3 times real fast.

4. Children and adolescents up to age 18 “whose financial eligibility as determined by the division exceeds 133 per cent but is not more than 300 per cent of the federal poverty level” will be eligible for Medicaid. This makes my head spin like the Aflac duck.

5. “Americans who earn less than 133 percent of the poverty level (approximately $14,000 for an individual and $29,000 for a family of four) will be eligible to enroll in Medicaid.”

6. A recent poll asked people whether they had a generally favorable or unfavorable view of the health plan. Responses split 41 percent and 41 percent between favoring and not favoring. Another 18 percent said they were undecided.

7. Small businesses qualify for tax credits if they pay for at least half of the workers’ health insurance. A small business is defined as having fewer than 25 full-time workers paid average annual wages below $50,000. Not only a small business, but a cheap small business.

8. Experience shows the plan is not significantly going to lower costs. Supporters of the law are actively considering new legislation aimed at cost containment.

9. The plan creates a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute “to conduct research to provide information about the best available evidence to help patients and their health care providers make more informed decisions.”

10. For individuals who make more than $200,000 or couples that make more than $250,000, the plan increases Medicare taxes on wages in 2013 by 0.9 percent and imposes a 3.8 percent tax on investment income.

11. This plan is completely unconcerned about cost control, with no incentives by insurance companies, employers or employees to keep costs down.

12. This plan is 100% subsidized by another and entirely separate government agency. If the plan loses money, the other government agency picks up the difference.

So, are you smarter than a fifth grader? 

All 12: You’re completely nuts! You qualify to be an analyst on either Fox News or The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.

8-11:  You spend way too much time watching MSNBC and listening to NPR! You should go walk your dogs.

6-7: You have been reading arcane government documents only available on-line.  You can probably get a researcher job on Melissa Harris-Perry‘s Saturday morning show.

5-6: Wonky Honorable Mention. Maybe a guest shot on Bill O’Reilly.

3-4: Dumber than a fifth-grader.  You really haven’t been paying attention, have you?

0-2: Never watch or listen Club. You would rather watch a baseball game or Law & Order re-runs or maybe listen to 70s and 80s top forty, wouldn’t you?

ANSWERS:

1. RomneyCare

Source: Massachusetts Department of Revenue, TIR 09-25: Individual Mandate Penalties for Tax Year 2010
Note: Both plans have individual mandates. The federal penalties start small, but eventually ramp up to $695 per year or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is higher. Eventually, federal penalties will tend to be higher than the Massachusetts plan.

2. RomneyCare

Source: Massachusetts Department of Revenue, Health Care Information for Employers
Note: Federal law exempts employers with fewer than 50 workers. Additionally, under the federal plan, employers pay fines only if their workers qualify for tax credits to buy insurance.

3. ObamaCare

Source: HealthCare.gov, Provisions of the Affordable Care Act, By Year
Note: The Massachusetts law also provides subsidized health insurance, but the income cut-off is 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

4. RomneyCare

Source: Massachusetts health care law
Note: The Massachusetts law expanded Medicaid for children. The federal law expands Medicaid to adults, but sets the cut-off at 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

5. ObamaCare

Source: HealthCare.gov, Provisions of the Affordable Care Act, By Year
Note: The Massachusetts law expanded Medicaid for children. The federal law expands Medicaid to adults, but sets the cut-off at 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

6. ObamaCare

Source: The Kaiser Family Foundation, Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, April 2011
Note: Polls show the federal law has split public opinion. Polls in Massachusetts show the program is significantly more popular.

7. ObamaCare

Source: Internal Revenue Service, Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers
Note: Tax credits start at 35 percent of the employer’s health premium costs and increase to 50 percent in 2014.

8. RomneyCare

Source: Gov. Deval Patrick, Patrick-Murphy administration proposes comprehensive health care cost containment legislation, Feb. 17, 2011; AP, Lawmakers hear bill to rein in Mass. health costs, May 16, 2011

9. ObamaCare

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Governing Board; Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), About Us

10. ObamaCare

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, summary of new health reform law

11. RomneyCare

Neener-Neener. See number 12.

Source: Ezra Klein in the Drudge Report http://www.drudge.com/news/154957/klein-ryancare-obamacare-similar

12. RomneyCare

That other agency would be the Federal Government. Seriously. No wonder it works.

Source: The American Spectator http://spectator.org/archives/2012/02/15/obamacare-vs-romneycare-a-cruc


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