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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Poll Shows Most Massachusetts Residents Like ‘Romneycare’

GOP hopefuls Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich call the Massachusetts’ health care law passed by Mitt Romney “Romneycare” and they say the plan is sinking the state.

The law requires that every resident have health insurance or pay a fine, and Santorum says that it’s an “abject failure,” and that health care costs “have blown a hole” in the state budget.

Yet in a new poll from our mother ship station WBUR, 62 percent of residents surveyed support the law that Mitt Romney signed into law five years ago, and 33 percent oppose it.

Perceptions Of Mass. Health Care Across The Country

Bob Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard University told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that when he talks to people outside of Massachusetts, they think the law is a failure.

“A large share of the audience [outside of Mass.] believes that something is terribly wrong because they’ve heard stories about how expensive it is… and people who live in the state just have a very different view of what’s going on here,” he said.

Blendon adds that Massachusetts has long had expensive health care, before Romney’s law was passed.

Selected WBUR Poll Data Points:

Its Influence On National Law:
- A majority (54%) said they think the state law was a “major influence” on the national overhaul
- 28% said it was a “minor influence”
- 11% said it was “not an influence”

Romney’s Health Care Stance:
- 68% said they think Mitt Romney disagrees with the national overhaul because he’s “trying to win votes”


  • Martha Bebinger, WBUR health care reporter
  • Bob Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard University

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  • J Frog

     There is no “misunderstanding”.  Some people think their plan is fine for Massachusetts.  But…some people don’t want ANOTHER NATIONAL MANDATED ENTITLEMENT.  Neither of the existing national entitlements (social security, medicare) is financially sound.  Given the lack of real cost controls and the trajectory of health care costs, it is impossible for some to believe that this plan will not be financially unsound, too.  It’s as simple as that.

    • Anonymous

      So you rather people just die? Life is not an entitlement but a society that does not cherish the lives of all those that form it will not long exist. Look at the French Revolution or the the Russian Revolution. The let them die and let them starve while we eat cake theory always ends with the top being destroyed. It will happen here also. In an armed society, people will not willingly take their children home to die because they are poor but for so long.  
      Wonder how you would describe the “entitlement” if you were ill and without insurance?

      • J Frog

        The choice isn’t between a new mandated national entitlement or death. My preference would be to get more market forces into health care. Remove the tax exemption on health care. Remove the ban with regard to interstate insurance. Tort reform. And lots of other ideas from people smarter than me.

        And if I didn’t have insurance I would try to get to a free health clinic. My area has these services. I’m sure other areas have similar.


        • Anonymous

          In many places, such as here in SC that is exactly the choice. Believe me, many, many people go without health care that leads to their untimely death. And I mean people that work every day of their life. 
          Nothing is free, nor do you have free services. People pay for it with taxes. All the mandate does is make everyone contribute instead of freeloading and then showing up when sick. That should be a conservative position but with the stupidity of modern “conservatives” we get to hear such babbling nonsense as you wrote.

    • Andrew Campbell

      In Michigan auto insurance is mandatory but I never heard Republicans complain about that.

  • Celarth

    So, if you choose not to have medical insurance, what is your plan to pay for medical care? I am insured, but emergency surgery for a broken ankle set me back $6000 this year (with insurance). The total bill came to $38,000. They would have billed even more were I not insured.

  • Wilson

    Most republican do not like the idea of Romney care or Obama care. That is why the candidates are bringing this issue up. Everyone knows Mass is a liberal state so it is no surprise that a poll would show that people support it. I’m glad the radio station had the poll but the results don’t surprise me and it won’t cause any republican to change their thoughts on questioning Romney care.

    • Anonymous

      Most Republicans don’t know what to believe until they are told by Fox and Fat boy.  Just look at how the sheep all lined up for a Medicare Drug Bill that even now, none of the so-called fiscal conservatives call to repeal. That shows that there are no principles only sheep being led by powers that want back in. Throw in the GOP racists and there you go. A whole boat full of idiots!

      • Andrew Campbell

        Exactly, it is like old people who bitch about the ACA. How stupid are they? The ACA actually fixes the donut hole caused by the Republicans when they reformed Medicare in 2007…..Seniors costs have dropped and you still have these old people bitch about Obamacare.

        • http://byrondennis.typepad.com/theabcsofmedicare/ Dennis Byron

          Go watch the Final Four, Andrew. You are replying to a two year old blog post….

          But what the person said two years ago about a family policy’s cost was true in Massachusetts until a few weeks ago unless the couple made less than about $75,000 jointly. They would now qualify for Obamacare subsidies but only if both husband and wife make under $95,000 combined, not very much in Massachusetts. And the subsidy would not reduce their policy cost very much (I’d tell you how much but the Democrats never got the web site to work here in Massachusetts).I understand given what is happening in Michigan that those incomes sound like a lot. I understand you can even buy house there for a dime on the dollar but not here in Massachusetts.

          As for you comment about old people and the donut hole, you don’t know what you are talking about or even have the correct dates. Since only about 3% of seniors are ever affected by the donut hole it is not surprising that none of them are too excited about Obamacare fixing it… or excited about Obama

  • Cmf

    You can’t have an honest debate by misrepresenting the views of your opponents. Conservatives don’t want RomneyCare for the nation b/c it did nothing to rein in costs, which is our biggest healthcare problem; it makes the federal government larger and more coercive; and it will reduce choice and dimisnish freedom. You and your guests agreed the problem was really conservative ignorance. Have you ever considered inviting conservatives on your program so THEY can explain their views? Do you wonder why people think NPR is a taxpayer funded liberal sandbox and echo chamber?

    • Anonymous

      Poor whiny little “conservatives”. Go watch Fox and slobber on your radios for fat boy. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Beyond-The-Spectrum/100002263519054 Beyond The-Spectrum

      “Diminish freedom?” Who needs invited conservatives when they will likely make the same repetitive argument? That’s an ideological argument, not an empirical one.  In fact, most conservative arguments against universal affordability/coverage are ideological ones; cost is more of an afterthought in an effort to appear that the new law has tangible negative consequences. True, costs need to be reigned in, but I find it funny that such arguments against universal affordability/coverage are always made by people lucky enough to afford insurance. Either way, it’s too early to tell if it will have negative or positive fiscal effects…and please don’t point out any General Accounting Office estimates…we all know people embrace or reject GAO projections based on their ideological bents.

    • Andrew Campbell

      How could it not rein in costs. It allows for free preventative health care. Perhaps you don’t understand what that means but go ask any non tea party nurse or doctor whether the earlier the diagnosis of a condition the cheaper it is to fix. That is the problem, we have so many uninsured that have heart attacks,strokes other seriously expensive catastrophic conditions that the hospitals never get reimbursed for. This will stop that from happening or limit it and reduce costs.

  • Anonymous

    We live in Massachusetts, are self-employed, have first hand experience with RomneyCare.
    Check the facts.  Most people are receiving subsidies from Massachusetts to pay for their healthcare.  (I have read as much as 67%).  That is why they like it.  They don’t pay for all of it.

    My husband and I do NOT want to receive subsidies from the government.   For our family of four, we pay almost $30,000 per year for our mandated healthcare in Massachusetts.  This is for an average family plan from Blue/Cross, including yearly deductibles, prescription deductibles, all co-pays, etc.  My daughter attending school and working in New York has no coverage under our plan to see a physician and must come back to Massachusetts for this.  She can go to an emergency room and a pharmacy in New York.  $30,000 per year.

    Our costs for healthcare under RomneyCare just keep going up.  This is crazy.  Will everyone except the superwealthy have to receive subsidies in order to pay for mandated healthcare insurance?

    • http://byrondennis.typepad.com/masshealthstats/ dennis byron

      FYI, in a comment elsewhere in this thread I do give the facts, the percentages of how the population breaks out in Massachusetts vis a vis RomneyCare. It ties almost exactly to the percentage that still support RomneyCare (those who did better under RomneyCare or who are not affected at all) and those that do not support RomneyCare (those like the Whiteowls who have been serverely harmed by RomneyCare).

      To answer the Whiteowl’s question, the 20% or so that I mention in my comment that are on Medicaid or Medicaid Lite (CommonWealth Care) break down to
      – 3% of the entire population on Commonwealth Care with
      – the remaining 17% or so of the entire population on full Medicaid. 

      The Whiteowls are correct that of those on Commonwealth Care, over two thirds get their healthcare insurance fully subsidized.  But it’s worse than that.  Of those that do pay something, they get a $450 a month Cadillac policy for from $45 to $161 dollars a month (most recent state report, which is months old) depending on income. These are prices for individuals.  A family of four making up to $60,000 a year or more can get a proportionally reduced premium on Cadillac family insurance.

      And it’s worse than that.  The insurers are forced by the state to provide these low rates to those on Commonwealth Care so the insurers ratchet up the premiums of those who buy their own insurance individually or through a small group (the self employed are in the small group category)

      [And this does not even begin to get into the harm that RomneyCare has done to municipal budgets and other aspects of the state budget.  Healthcare used to cost 26% of the state budget.  Now it costs 46%.  True only a few percent of that can be directly tied to RomneyCare and true much of that money comes from the Feds through the waiver, stimulus funds, the John Kerry Nantucket Cottage Memorial rip off the rest of the country in PPACA, and other financial sleight of hand, but it's still a disaster.]

    • Andrew Campbell

      $30,000? LOL, so false. You are crazy. I receive no subsidies in Michigan, I am 44 and pay $271 a month, $1k deductible, and $1,750.00 Max out of pocket costs, you are crazy if you don’t think that is a good deal.

  • http://byrondennis.typepad.com/masshealthstats/ dennis byron

    You say:

    “”Bob Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard University told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that when he talks to people outside of Massachusetts, they think the law is a failure. “A large share of the audience [outside of Mass.] believes that something is terribly wrong because they’ve heard stories about how expensive it is… and people who live in the state just have a very different view of what’s going on here,” he said.””

    It is a failure.  It did not achieve the objectives outlined by then Governor Romney when he introduced the concept in November 2004 (see http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2004/11/21/my_plan_for_massachusetts_health_insurance_reform/). Proposals that do not deliver against objectives are called failures (I’m not sure what abject means; perhaps you are quibbling about that added adjective). 

    In particular, among the many ways it failed to meet expectations, RomneyCare came in 1%-3% over the promised budget depending on whose metrics you use.  Many, particularly Governor Patrick, dismiss that amount as a trivial rounding error.  Real people do not think being $300 million to a billion dollars over budget is a rounding error. 

    That being said, it is understandable that most people in Massachusetts approved of the idea then and still do. First of all, healthcare insuracne was invented here and we like it.  We have no problem with the mandate because over 90% of us did not have to be mandated to buy it.

    – about 25% of us are on self-insured employer sponsored insurance plans and another 20% of us are on Medicare. This 45% or so are only affected by RomneyCare peripherally if at all. There is no legal requirements related to RomneyCare for us but it might have increased our rates a bit.
    – Another 25% or so are on large group insurance plans where the insurer — not the employer — takes the risk. This group is somewhat affected by RomneyCare to the extent that it is more closely tied to the small group insurance market.
    – 20% of us are on Medicaid or Medicaid-Lite (Commonwealth Care); people in this group are demonstrably better off than before (although from a pretty poor base position). 
    – 1% of us buy our own insurance directly and we are better off because as a side benefit of the RomneyCare legislation, we could buy our insurance much less expensively at small group rates.
    – Conversely the remaining percentage — those 10% or so in the small group market — are much worse off, paying both normal increased premiums and their share of the premiums saved by those that previously bought insurance directly.

    Those percentages of plus or minus self interest or indifference pretty much line up with WBUR findings. 

  • Sessionslt

    This is wonderful news about Romney Care in MA.  However, this is a state organized health care system.  If it were done nationally, many more problems would occur and be very costly.  The Federal gov’t can’t and should not do everything.  Local control is usually always better.   Great news for Romney’s leadership style.

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