Saturday, May 21, 2011

Health Reform In Massachusetts

From the New York Times:
Mitt Romney’s defense of the Massachusetts health care reforms was politically self-serving. It was also true.
Despite all of the bashing by conservative commentators and politicians -- and the predictions of doom for national health care reform -- the program he signed into law as governor has been a success. The real lesson from Massachusetts is that health care reform can work, and the national law should work as well or even better.
Read the complete editorial here.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that finding a primary care physician for the first time will take a while, at least until Massachusetts can absorb all of the newly insured people. Although a familiar complaint from the left about the Affordable Care Act is that complete implementation takes too long, adding 32,000,000 people to the American health care apparatus by 2014 is realistically a very ambitious undertaking.

The health care infrastructure has evolved ("designed" is too kind a word) to accommodate different levels of insurance, with the uninsured and underinsured consigned to emergency care. (Which may or may not amount to much: By law, ED's must screen and stabilize anyone reporting to an emergency room for treatment. They must treat only if the screening identifies an actual emergency condition.) Until the infrastructure can adjust and provide an adequate number of primary care physicians and facilities, it's likely that many of the newly insured will continue to seek care in ED's.

Critics will cite what is a period of adjustment as evidence of failure, but the Affordable Care Act is a massive undertaking. Rushes to judgment will make no more sense than declaring the winner of a baseball game based on the score in the first inning.