House leaders unveiled a $40.3 billion state budget Monday that significantly tempered two controversial plans by Governor Charlie Baker to tackle the cost of health care. Lawmakers slashed his proposed fee on businesses to fund state medical costs, and they rejected a plan to cap the prices charged by hospitals.
… In their spending blueprint, House leaders also axed a plan by the governor to rein in health care spending by capping the prices charged by expensive hospitals. Speaker Robert A. DeLeo cast hospitals as crucial to the state’s economy and said they should not be subjected to new cost-control measures at a time when Congress continues to consider repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
“Hospitals as crucial to the state’s economy” — whereas every business and individual who pays health insurance premiums is chopped liver? Isn’t this a plain case of serving a special interest — one company in particular, Partners — literally at everyone else’s expense?
So on the uninsuring-employer fee (reminiscent of the 2005-6 ballot issue that led to Chapter 58, btw), Baker is to the left of DeLeo. On the hospitals, former insurance exec Baker was willing to gore a very powerful ox. He also proposed to tax Airbnb.
This is a very ironic position for those of us who have very progressive reps who nonetheless voted to maintain DeLeo as Speaker-for-Life. For all of our state’s considerable strengths and achievements, we have a continuing, growing problem of affordability and inequality. Every criticism I’ve made of Baker’s lack of long-term planning (e.g. the T) applies doubly to DeLeo. And he makes his membership look bad. It’s a Catch-22 for them: Vote him in, and ensure that nothing truly progressive/adaptive can happen; or vote against him and lose whatever chairmanships, power/influence one has coming.