By now, you’ve heard plenty about the Wisconsin Senate Democrats’Â government-run health care proposal which was added to the state budget.Â News articles to this point have essentially just run the talking points – Democrats promise health care as good as elected officials receive, while Republicans deride the plan as a $15 billion tax increase.
The speed at which the plan was introduced and passed has left little time to ask some important questions about the program.Â For instance, one might ask an obvious question – what will poor, sick people in other states do when they find out Wisconsin has universal health care?
Essentially, the program offers free health care to everyone in Wisconsin who has a “substantial” presence in the state, is under 65, and who isn’t eligible for other government-subsidized health care.Â There is a provision that requires an individual to live in Wisconsin for 12 months to be eligible for health care, unless any of the following apply:
1.Â The person is “gainfully employed;”
2.Â The personÂ is a pregnant woman;
3.Â The person isÂ under 18 years old and their parent lives in Wisconsin; regardless of whether the parent has been in the state for 12 months.
Deeper in the bill, it grants the newly-created health board the power to define what “gainfully employed” means, although it specifically mandates that farm workers and the self-employed must beÂ included in the definition.
In looking at the eligibility requirements detailed above, does anyone seriously believe that Wisconsin won’t be flooded with the nation’s poorest, sickest patients?Â Why would any poor personÂ in Illinois or Minnesota with a serious illness not immediately pick up, move to Wisconsin, and get a job at Dairy Queen?Â How hard can it be to claim you’re “self employed” or work for a farm?Â OB/GYNs could be flooded with out of state pregnant women seeking free care, as they are immediately eligible.
In fact, if you need free health care, you don’t even have to be the one that gets a job.Â Once one person is deemed “gainfully employed,” their entire immediate family is eligible for free health care, funded by taxes on Wisconsin employers.Â Think of Wisconsin’s 1990s welfare debacle, times ten.Â When people flood our borders to take advantage of the plan, it won’t be healthy people – it will be mobile, sickÂ individuals that use the health care system the most.
Even people with a sincere desire to provide near-universal coverage can’t take this plan seriously.Â When Wisconsin opens its arms to the sickest, poorest people in America, it will jam our hospitals and result in rationed care and long waiting lists.Â According to the bill, it will then be up to the Secretary of Administration (who usually has no experience in health care issues)Â to come up with a plan to “control health care costs.”Â In other words, it will be up to an unelected bureaucrat with no health care experience to ration care to Wisconsinites – in large partÂ due to the health care that mustÂ be provided to out-of-staters.Â
This is why even intelligent observers who are committed to a single-payer plan can’t honestly believe that such a plan can be implemented onÂ a state-by-state basis.Â Â Overuse of the system is one majorÂ reasonÂ whyÂ health care plans in states that have tried various permutations of universalÂ coverage have collapsed.Â (ForÂ a good list, click here.)Â If America were to go to any kind of universalÂ plan, it would have to do so nationally – the cost of moving from one state to another just isn’t enough of a deterrent from keeping a state from being flooded with the nation’s sickest individuals. (The Massachusetts plan requiring everyone to purchase health insurance may have the opposite effect – who wants to be forced to buy health care?)
It goes without saying that poor people with serious illnesses need good medical care.Â But it isn’t the responsibility of Wisconsin businesses to pay higher taxes to treat Arkansas’ mentally ill.Â Senate Democrats pushing the Wisconsin universal plan brag that it will give everyone the same health care as their elected officials.Â They may actually be correct.Â Unfortunately, it will ensure that everyone’s health care service is equally atrocious.
Â UPDATE:Â Rick Esenberg adds a little legal perspective to this argument here.Â