Healthcare Spending Limits, a Step Way Too Far


So, while Rhode Islanders go about their lives, here’s what they’re paying state government officials to think about, as reported by Richard Salit:

To curb the rising cost of health care, Rhode Island should cap how much is spent statewide by insurers, hospitals and doctors and consider ways to hold them accountable when they surpass annual targets, according to a panel convened by Governor Raimondo.

And what’s needed to oversee the development of such a cap — and a slew of other ongoing efforts to reduce health care costs and improve quality of care — is a new Office of Health Policy to establish and implement goals, the group says. 

Those were among the key recommendations included in a final report released on Tuesday by the Working Group for Healthcare Innovation, which the governor formed last summer.

Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo created the working group via executive order, and I addressed the economic illiteracy of its goal back in July, but people really need to contemplate what it is the state is seeking to do, here.  Put it plainly: People in the government want to tell Rhode Islanders how much they can spend on their own healthcare.

Oh, they’ll spin it.  They’ll say that their goal is really to limit what people who provide healthcare can charge Rhode Islanders and that they’re planning to get the best minds looking for miracle delivery methods that will ensure that everybody gets all the care they could possibly want “realistically need” while paying providers fairly for their services, but the basic fact remains the same.  What they want to do is limit how much Rhode Islanders can spend on their own healthcare.

That’s not all.  No, this isn’t some individual limit for each of us; it’s a collective limit for all of us.  So, when they expand Medicaid rules to accept even childless, able-bodied adults, those extra services have to be deducted from the total.  When they then expand the services available through Medicaid to include transgender operations, that money not only comes out of taxpayers’ wallets, but out of our shared healthcare total. And when prices go up and the powerful labor unions in the state lobby and fight successfully to hold on to their disproportionately generous benefits (perhaps with the help of binding arbitration), that much more of the squeeze will have to come out of everybody else’s share.

In the name of helping us, what government officials hope to set up is a system in which all of us must invest non-healthcare money in the buying of political influence in order to secure a fair (or less unfair) cut of the healthcare that the government allows to happen in the state.

It’s getting less and less hyperbolic to suggest that we’ve reached the point at which pitchforks on Smith Hill are justified.  Any government officials who would take steps toward this goal should be forced out of office, whether they have to be voted out, fired, or impeached.