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August 26, 2012

Column: Legislators seek to contain health care costs by decree

“First, do no harm,” states the Hippocratic Oath.

OK, maybe I

shouldn’t have laughed when I heard about the new Massachusetts health care reform law. And yet ... didn’t someone once say that laughter is the best medicine? We’ll need it when our doctors are too busy filling out their budget paperwork to write us a prescription.

Let’s start with the official history of S. 2400, the 349-page bill that basically takes over the commonwealth’s private health care system, presently considered one of the best in the world. From the state’s website:

July 30, 2012: Senate — Reported from the committee of conference.

July 31, 2012: Senate — Rules suspended.

July 31, 2012: Senate — Committee of conference report accepted.

July 31, 2012: House — Rules suspended.

July 31, 2012: House — Committee of conference report accepted, in concurrence.

July 31, 2012: House — Enacted.

July 31, 2012: Senate — Enacted and laid before the governor.

Aug. 6, 2012: Governor — Signed by the governor, Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012.

There you go. An entire overhaul of our entire health care system in just one day. Normally you have to give legislators time to read the bill they are voting on, but that silly requirement is easily set aside with the words “rules suspended” (see above).

They couldn’t be allowed time to read the bill because July 31 was the last day of the legislative session this year and there were other important bills that they also didn’t have time to read that needed to be passed before midnight. Every senator voted in favor of S. 2400, and all but 20 House members.

RomneyCare had passed after a long, well-publicized process in 2006. At the time its supporters admitted that it had no cost controls, which they would get to later. Years went by, mandates were added, health care costs rose; then when ObamaCare became a presidential campaign issue, som

eone here decided it was time to get started on “Phase 2: Cost Containment” to prove it could be done.

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