Baloney Season In Full Bloom


Baloney Season In Full Bloom
by Scott K Fish
Baloney season is in full bloom. Example: the nonstop mixed messages about Governor Baldacci’s Dirigo Health Plan (DHP). Dirigo is the governor’s two-part state-run health insurance combining Medicaid and a subsidized health plan for individuals, sole proprietors, and small businesses called DirigoChoice.
Recently, the Maine State Employees Union (MSEU) funded radio ads glorifying DHP/Baldacci for, they claim, saving millions of dollars while insuring thousands of uninsured/under-insured Mainers.
Meanwhile, an email arrives here. The Hon. Tarren Bragdon is writing about Dirigo for The Heartland Institute, saying Dirigo, “is hemorrhaging money and faltering, according to [the Baldacci administration’s own] figures.�?
Who’s giving the Dirigo facts and no baloney?

Tarren Bragdon, a former Maine legislator representing part of Bangor, is a policy analyst for the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a Dirigo expert. He leads the MHPC’s “DirigoWatch,�? an project dedicated to keeping Dirigo from escaping to the Land of Make Believe and sending false messages back to Maine.
The MSEU, in contrast, could have enrolled all its members in Dirigo. But, the MSEU said, No thanks, we’ll keep our gold-plated, taxpayer subsidized health insurance program.
Why is the MSEU raving about a program they snubbed? Raw politics.
I’ll stick with Bragdon’s Dirigo information. Numbers don’t lie.
Governor Baldacci (June 2003) told us his Dirigo Plan would provide health insurance to 135,000 Maine uninsured/under-insured residents within five years, with no new taxes, while lowering health insurance costs for all Maine.
Not true.
Bragdon: “Since January 1, 2005, 8,500 people have enrolled in DirigoChoice. But…[o]ne in seven people (14 percent)…dropped the plan after…less than 10 months.�?
Bragdon cites an 8/05 Muskie School study showing that only 22.4 percent of DirigoChoice policyholders had no health insurance when they signed on. That suggests:
* Most DirigoChoice policyholders dropped their private sector health insurance to get subsidized by Maine taxpayers, and
* DirigoChoice has provided coverage to just 1,635 uninsured persons in 10 months.
That means, writes Bragdon, “the estimated annual cost to Maine taxpayers for each uninsured person covered by DirigoChoice is over $15,900.�?
Baldacci used $54 million meant for tax relief to start Dirigo. Now he’s taxing all health insurance claims paid in Maine ($44 million) to keep Dirigo afloat.
What’s better? Competition! Freedom over socialism. Let Mainers buy health insurance anywhere in the nation. My $444 monthly Maine policy costs $150 per month in Texas.
In 1993 Maine forced insurance companies writing Maine health policies to insure everyone (guaranteed issue) and to not use age as a cost consideration (community rating). That killed competition, sent our health costs skyrocketing.
Republican lawmakers want to fix and improve these sick health mandates so we can have more choices of better health insurance.
Dirigo Health, truth be told, is step one on the Democrats’ march toward a total state-run health care system. Like all socialist Utopian schemes it is failing. It’s taking Maine’s health care system down with it. If the system goes, we won’t get it back.
Email Scott K Fish