Commentary

Question 1 will fail those it is intended to help

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Question 1 promises a false sense of security that is destined to fail Maine’s elderly, disabled and those who care for them. Mainers have a right to care for their families without government interference.

Never mind the devastating economic impact that the Maine State Economist has projected this program would have, or the federal privacy laws that will be violated by the terms of the new program. Why should the grown children of elderly and disabled Mainers who care for their parents in their own homes have to become state employees and pay fees to a labor union in order to take care of their loved ones? The only possible reason this would be required by the program is so that unions can increase their control over this very sensitive, intimate, and burdensome dynamic between caregivers and recipients. The SEIU stands to benefit directly by becoming the middle-man and taking a cut of the millions of dollars exchanging hands in this industry each year in Maine.

One doesn’t need to have a partisan or political agenda to see how fundamentally flawed this proposal is. In fact, all four candidates for governor — a democrat, a republican and two independents — oppose the program.  Anyone can see how government-run healthcare fails its patients by looking at the results of existing programs.

Predictably, the quality and efficiency of services everywhere spiral downward in the absence of incentives to compete for customers in state-run or universal health care systems.  Shamefully, nobody is held to account for these disastrous, and often criminal outcomes when only the taxpayer is responsible for the bottom line.

So why would anyone propose such a system of care that hinges on the success of a massive new unaccountable bureaucracy? Why not propose a fix to the existing programs rather than an entirely new, overlapping and duplicative service?  If the objective is to jettison the proven failures of the old model, then why does this new government entitlement bare the same trademark signatures: publicly financed and managed with no free-market incentives to drive quality and service efficiencies; requiring current and future providers to become state employees for the purpose of unionization.

Could it be possible that proponents of this plan are more interested in creating a new constituency of government-dependent and financially obligated service providers than they are in providing quality services to help the truly needy and the disabled?  That would explain why there is no means-testing in the program, making even the wealthiest of Mainers eligible for the program. It would also explain why the program proposes no explicit residency requirement, enabling people to move to Maine and immediately become eligible for services.

Intentions aside, it is hard to imagine this being the first government health program to succeed where all others have consistently failed. Unless, of course, success is determined by the volume of money flowing into union bank accounts.

Proponents of this plan are pushing the largest tax increase in Maine history, which should concern anyone interested in preserving Maine’s delicate economic recovery.

About Terry Brown

Terry Brown, of Yarmouth, served as the director of communications at The Maine Heritage Policy Center from 2017 through 2018. Prior to joining MHPC, he ran a communications consulting business with public and private sector clients including The World Bank. He previously worked as an analyst for Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, a press liaison at The White House, a media director for the US Olympic Committee, and a marketing executive at Citibank on Wall Street, and in Milan and Los Angeles.

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