In Aesop’s fable, a farmer and his wife own a goose that lays a golden egg every day. For a while, they revel in their good fortune but soon their baser instincts take over. Upset that they aren’t getting rich fast enough, they reason that under her feathers and skin, their goose must indeed be made of gold. Hoping to cash in, they kill the goose, only to discover that its insides are just the same as every other goose.
This fable comes to mind while watching both Massachusetts and the federal government wrestle with their health care laws. In Massachusetts, Senate President Theresa Murphy will move a bill that requires the state’s hospitals to make a one-time contribution to help pay for the health care of small businesses. If the legislation becomes law the hospitals will inevitably seek increases from the insurers, who will attempt to pass them on to consumers. No doubt the Commonwealth’s legislators will be incensed at this inevitability, but hey – that’s tomorrow’s problem.
Speaking of “tomorrow’s problem,” nowhere in the annals of the legislative continuum is the phrase “legislate in haste, repent at leisure” more appropriate than with the new federal health care law. And only the federal government would undertake the enterprise of trying to put the farmer’s goose back together and resuscitate her.