Grassroot Perspective – Feb. 25, 2003-Worse than Clinton; Governor Dean’s Health-care Record

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“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Worse than Clinton

By Lew Rockwell November 9-10, 2002

Do Republicans really support smaller government?

Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress from 1995 through 2001, during which time the federal budget grew from $1.4 trillion to $2.1 trillion (about $100 billion annually).

Since Republicans took control of the House in 1995, federal discretionary spending has grown by a rate of about 7 percent annually.

Social welfare programs under Bush have grown by $96 billion in just two years, versus $51 billion under six years of Clinton, according to economist Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth.

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– Governor Dean’s Health-care Record

Judging from his eleven-year track record, Gov. Howard Dean most wants Vermonters to remember him for his persistent effort to drive down the fraction of Vermonters who lack health insurance coverage.

The “young doctor-governor” began his effort by pushing Act 160 through to passage in his first legislative session (1992). This act created a Vermont Health Care Authority and charged it with bringing forth two sweeping health care plans. One was to be a single payer plan that Lt. Gov. Dean had championed as in 1991. The other was something called “regulated multi-payer” that Gov. Dean championed in 1992.

In addition, Act 160 imposed community rating on all health insurance premiums. This practice divorced premium cost from health risk, so that young, healthy families with limited means were required to subsidize the premiums of older, more affluent families with more health problems. As intended, community rating drove most of the private insurers out of the state.

Other provisions of Act 160 authorized a statewide insurance pool (abandoned in six months), binding state control over hospital budgets, and a “safety net” for customers abandoned by the fleeing insurers (which cost Vermont Blue Cross millions of dollars until effectively repealed by regulatory fiat.)

In late 1993 the Authority presented the two required plans. They were immediately rejected both by Gov. Dean and by the single payer forces in the Legislature. An effort to legislate a “universal access” plan collapsed so dramatically in the 1994 House that it became a national story in the New York Times. Shortly thereafter the Legislature abolished the Authority.

In 1995 Dean decided to expand Medicaid instead of attempting a “universal” solution. Eligibility levels were increased until children in families with up to $51,000 income could qualify for benefits. To finance the expansion, the legislature levied taxes on hospitals, nursing homes and tobacco, and even more drastically underpaid providers for the health care services demanded by program participants.

Eleven Dean years have now gone by. The state share of Medicaid spending has risen from $86.7 million to $263.5 million. And what of the all-important uninsured rate? According to Census Bureau figures, it has gone from 9.5 percent (1992) to 9.7 percent (averaged over 1999-2001). In 1994 — before Medicaid expansion — that data series ranked Vermont second among the states. The 2001 ranking for health insurance coverage placed Vermont 10th in the nation.

Dean’s defenders will be quick to point out that the Census Bureau data sample is quite small for Vermont, and thus the Vermont percentage jumps erratically between eight and fourteen percent. That is true. However, in 1997 Dean himself crowed about Vermont being 2nd in the nation, based on the 1994 Census data. (At the time he crowed, the newer 1995 data showed Vermont had slipped back to 22nd.) If the governor can refer to Census data to tout his success, others are free to use the same data to reach a less favorable conclusion.

So here’s the bottom line on the Dean era: Eleven years of dramatic expansion of government health care. The near-destruction of the individual and small group health insurance market. Creation of a true Budget Monster, heading for a projected $95 million deficit by 2008. And yes, a higher fraction of Vermonters without health insurance today than in 1992.

A reasonable person would have to conclude that the state of Vermont has been doing something wrong here. What’s wrong is the whole strategy of destroying the insurance market, relentlessly expanding government control, and above all shifting from personal responsibility for wellness to government “delivery of services.”

Vermonters need to recognize that a sound health care system ought to be based not on forced collectivization, underpaying hospitals and doctors, government mandates to take away consumer choice, and ever higher government spending.

The alternative — personal responsibility, consumer health information, a competitive insurance marketplace, tax-favored medical savings accounts, a high risk pool for the uninsurable, and government assistance limited to those who are unable to deal with their own health problems — ought to be looking a lot more attractive.

Above article is quoted from The Ethan Allen Institute The Ethan Allen Letter December 2002.

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

Ready for some words of wisdom? Here they come courtesy of Hawaii’s own Bud Weisbrod who has the following on his business card:

“Quo Vadis?

“In evaluating the socialistic welfare state, it might be timely to reflect on a few basic economic truths, which have been proved many times in the course of history.

“Governments cannot give to the people what they do not first take away.

“You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

“You cannot legislate the poor into economic freedom by legislating the wealthy out of it.

“That which one man receives without working for, another man must work for without receiving.

“Nothing can kill the initiative of a people more quickly than for half of them to get the idea that they need not work because the other half will feed them, and for the other half to get the idea that it does no good to work since someone else receives the rewards of their labors. …”

Bud wants you to send the above to your legislator. Contact Bud at

”’See Web site”’ ”’for further information. Join its efforts at “Nurturing the rights and responsibilities of the individual in a civil society. …” or email or call Grassroot of Hawaii Institute President Richard O. Rowland at or (808) 487-4959.”’