About Last Night's Question
HCFA is a 501(c)3, so we don't endorse candidates or take positions on partisan electoral issues. So we need to be careful in our commentary on last night's debate between Senate candidates Gabriel Gomez and Ed Markey, including their answers to a question about health care (watch it).
So here's a topic we can have a strong opinion on: the question itself. Here it is, asked by Boston Globe political editor Cynthia Needham:
Officials in a number of states, including Massachusetts, have expressing frustration or even alarm at the prospect of implementing the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Please give a specific example of something you see wrong with the new law that you would try to change in the Senate, and explain exactly what you would do to try to fix it."
Alarm? What is she talking about? We reject the premise of the question and wish the candidates had, too. While of course officials in many other states oppose implementation of the ACA, here in Massachusetts there is near-unanimous understanding that the ACA is very good for Massachusetts - because it is.
The ACA expands coverage to thousands of people locked out and uninsured now. Under our chapter 58, sliding scale Commonwealth Care subsidies go up to 3 times the poverty level, about $34,000 annual income for an individual. Under the ACA, subsidies go up to 4 times poverty, around $46,000 income. This will allow thousands of people to get the help they need to make coverage affordable. The ACA lowers drug costs for our seniors, promotes preventive care, supports coordinated care for adults with disabilities, invests in more primary care resources, provides tax credits to small businesses, strengthens MassHealth, and much, much more.
What's more, the ACA provides new federal funds that will save state taxpayers billions over the coming years.
State officials at every level have supported the ACA in Massachusetts. Governor Patrick, the House and the Senate all included funding to implement the ACA in their 2014 budget. No Republican or any other legislator filed amendments to strike these funds. When the Supreme Court upheld the law last summer, support came from all sectors of Massachusetts - business, consumers, providers, insurers and government.
Of course the law needs tweaks, like any complicated law. And both Markey and Gomez have opposed the tax on medical devices, a small piece of the funding structure for the law. But the question implies serious objections to the ACA.
We object to the objection.