Originally Posted by SDW2001
Romeycare is not Obamacare. It's got some similarities, of course. But it's a totally different thing. First, it's at the state level, which is perfectly constitutional. Secondly, it's not a 2,700 page $2 Trillion takeover of the system.
It's clear that you are avoiding the issue her by attempting to paint Romneycare and Obamacare as being virtually the same.
Of course there are differences in the cost - the Romney version applied to Massachusetts only, Obamacare is for/against the whole country. But to repeat, the Heritage Foundation had a large part to play in both plans. If Obama was the "socialist" that so many people claim, then it is quite remarkable that he took his cues from the hard right. And to echo that, if Obama was the "socialist" that so many claim, why was his cabinet drawn almost exclusively from Wall Street and the financial sector?
Some of the similarities and differences between Romneycare and Obamacare listed here:
• Individual mandate to buy health insurance. Everyone in Massachusetts must purchase health insurance or else pay a penalty; the same goes for the Senate plan, though the penalty structures vary between the two.
• Employer responsibilities for offering health insurance. Companies with more than 10 employees in Massachusetts need to offer health insurance or else pay a penalty. The Senate bill sets the bar for companies at 50 employees, though technically the bill falls short of a mandate.
• Health insurance exchanges. Both the Massachusetts and U.S. Senate plans involve the use of voluntary "exchanges" that individuals and small businesses can use to purchase private-sector health insurance. These exchanges are designed to offer a range of plans with different benefits and premium levels.
• Affordability subsidies. Under both plans, lower-income individuals and families can receive government subsidies to help them pay their health insurance premiums. In the Massachusetts plan, subsidies are allotted on a sliding scale up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Under the U.S. Senate plan, the sliding-scale subsidies go up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
• Expansion of Medicaid. The Massachusetts plan expands Medicaid to all children up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. The U.S. Senate plan also expands Medicaid, but in a different fashion, offering it to all individuals (not just children) up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
• Insurance market regulation. Both plans restructure the insurance market, in similar but slightly different ways. In Massachusetts, the reform bill merged the individual and small-group markets (that is, it merged the market serving individuals not covered by their employer's plan with the market serving smaller employers). The U.S. Senate bill placed new regulations on those two markets but kept them separate. In Massachusetts, dependents up to age 25 can be covered on their parents' plan, while the U.S. Senate bill allows such dependent coverage up to age 26. And young adults in Massachusetts from age 19 to 26 can purchase a special lower-cost, lower-benefit plan through the exchange; the U.S. Senate bill creates a category of lower-cost, lower-benefit plan in the exchange for those up to age 30 who cannot find affordable coverage.
• Limits on the ratio between the highest and lowest premiums. In Massachusetts, the highest premiums can generally only be twice as high as the lowest premiums. The only factors that can be used to vary premiums are age, tobacco use, geographic area, the nature of the employee's industry, an unusually low participation rate (for group plans) and participation in a wellness plan. The U.S. Senate bill allows premiums in the individual and small-group market and on the exchange to vary based only on age (limited to a 3-to-1 ratio), geographic area, family composition and tobacco use (limited to 1.5 -to-1 ratio). Wellness programs do not factor into ratings variations under the Senate bill, but the bill does provide other incentives for such plans.
The bills differ more noticeably in several other areas.
• Cost containment. Critics of the Massachusetts plan have taken it to task for its lack of cost-containment provisions. The U.S. Senate bill makes changes to Medicare that are intended to lower program costs, such as restructuring how payments are made to Medicare Advantage plans -- the HMO option under Medicare. Since Medicare is a federal program, the Massachusetts plan does not address this issue. The U.S. Senate bill also authorizes the Food and Drug Administration to approve generic versions of certain drugs. This, too, is a federal rather than a state responsibility.
• Financing. Both the Massachusetts plan and the Senate bill are financed in part by revenue generated from the individual and employer mandates. But the Massachusetts plan's financing is heavily dependent on leveraging federal matching funds, while the Senate bill, in addition to cost savings from Medicare, imposes taxes on drugmakers, device manufacturers, health insurers and indoor tanning services. It also taxes high-cost ("Cadillac") health care plans. The Massachusetts plan does not do any of these things.
"The Senate probably has more cost containment," said John Holahan, a health expert at the Urban Institute who has studied the Massachusetts plan extensively. "And the financing is different. But the structure is the same."
So it seems that there's broad agreement that, despite some operational differences, the broad structure of the Massachusetts health care plan is quite similar to that in the U.S. Senate bill -- certainly more similar than either one is to, say, a single-payer health care plan or even to the current system.
(Paul) Krugman's comparison of the two plans is Mostly True.