Mass health

Paul Krugman says that it's not fair to accuse the Massachussetts health care program of costing $400 million more than originally projected.

The problem is that they’re all wrong. People are confusing an increase in costs that was largely (not completely) anticipated — after all, the plan is supposed to cover more people, and subsidize their coverage — with a cost overrun.

The fact is that the plan does seem to be making a serious dent in the number of uninsured. One thing that has come to light is that there may have been more uninsured people in Massachusetts to start with than previously estimated, so there’s a steeper hill to climb. But claims that it’s all a disaster are based on nothing but bad journalism.

That link to the Healthy Blog post seems extremely misleading. Paul Krugman seems to be claiming that the post proves that the cost was actually mostly anticipated. But it doesn't. The unanticipated cost of $400 million is pretty much a direct quote from the budget, one that seems to be backed up by the statements of the governor and budget officials. The state budget is a byzantine hive of confusingly organized data, but it seems safe to say that the cost overrun portion of the spending growth is now in the hundreds of millions.

The main gist of the post linked by Professor Krugman is that the cost to the state of Massachussetts is less than $400 million, because the Federal government will be kicking in part of the cost. This is, of course, brilliantly irrelevant to any argument over national health care, since the Feds don't have another government to contribute to the kitty.