I owe HUMAN EVENTS readers a big apology. I allowed the good spin put on Massachusetts’ new Romney Care legislation by the New York Times tilt my view in favor of the program enacted in an attempt to provide every citizen in the state with healthcare.
My column "Massachusetts Not as Blue as it Seems" reflects my violation of a crucial rule: never trust any law endorsed by the Times. At first glance, the much-heralded Massachusetts reform uses free-market principles to universalize healthcare. Upon reading the actual bill, the Wall Street Journal reported May 5 that the well-intentioned bill is actually a death warrant for small business in the Bay State.
The bill was hailed as a success in that it required individuals who could afford it to buy health insurance or pay an income tax penalty. The legislation also sought to mandate that companies move to provide all employees with health coverage. It was an improvement in that it wasn’t Hillary Care, and it is a disappointment in that it saddles businesses with expenses that threaten their ability to stay open, and shams individuals in that it requires a specific kind of policy be purchased.
Being a native of Massachusetts, I am of course more inclined to look favorably on a bill prided by a Republican governor than legislation sponsored by the commonwealth’s congressional delegation of Neanderthals (Kerry, Kennedy, Frank, Meehan, et al). The lesson here is to never let party allegiances blind you. The bill is destined to fail, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Upon a full comprehensive study of the legislation, it is clear that Romney was pandering to the Democrat-controlled legislature. The new healthcare law, according to the Wall Street Journal, requires businesses with 10 or more employees to provide them health insurance, or face a yearly $295 penalty per employee. While the fee seems punishment enough, businesses that cannot afford to provide insurance to all employees are responsible for all the expenses which the employee cannot pay, with no cap on the liability. After the bills reach in excess of $50,000, the commonwealth will fine companies $5,000 a week for every week they fail to submit the required paperwork on uncovered employees. The Wall Street Journal asserted that the regulations are burdensome enough for businesses to either limit their workforce to 10 employees, or begin laying people off.
Alas, I have learned to be skeptical of blue-state Republican governors. These governors must often sell out to Democrat-controlled legislatures to get anything done. Romney initially vetoed the provision which levied a $295 per employee penalty on businesses, only to be overruled by the Democratic legislature. Additionally, Section 65 of the law mandates that individuals buy HMO policies, rather than PPO plans, which allow much more consumer choice in providers and treatments. A Republican has betrayed the people by restricting choice insurance plans. What a sad day for the party.
As a Republican, Romney should have been more attentive to the consequences of the law for Mom n’ Pop businesses. Under the new cumbersome law, small businesses will be the first to fold because of unsustainable financial burdens. A more sensible bill would have allowed multiple businesses to pool resources in order to provide healthcare benefits to employees through trade associations. A similar bill has been pending in the Congress for two years, but is being opposed by — surprise — Democrats, who cite it as a giveaway to the insurance industry.
My aunt and uncle, owners of Foodmaster Supermarkets, with about 16 stores located throughout the greater Boston area, feel betrayed by Romney, as every Republican should. Foodmaster Supermarkets are renowned throughout Boston for their commitment to public service and charitable causes, such as Hospice of the North Shore, United Cerebral Palsy, the Lupus Foundation, and many others. But as with any business, there is a limit to how much the company can afford to give. The regulations imposed on my family’s business by Romney Care far surpass that limit. As Foodmaster already faces obstacles to survival from conglomerate chains such as Shaw’s and Stop n’ Shop, the new Massachusetts healthcare reform bill saddles the company with burdens which will challenge its ability to remain operational, and will reduce its ability to make much-needed contributions to the greater Boston community.
I hope my readers will forgive me of my misdeeds. But more importantly, I hope my uncle will forgive me for acting like a liberal.