A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

HCFA Scoop! Man Bites Dog

HCFA Scoop! Man Bites Dog

June 20, 2005

Informed sources tell us that at tomorrow morning's Blue Cross Blue Shield Access Summit, Governor Romney will publicly embrace a mandate for all individuals in Massachusetts to buy health insurance. He will also call for major reform elements promoted by other plans (Affordable Care Today Coalition, Sen. Pres. Travaglini) such as reinsurance, provider rate reform, a free rider surcharge, new public spending, and more.

The Summit takes place at the JFK Library between 8:30am and 12:30pm and Gov. Romney is the keynote speaker at 8:30. The Foundation will release the next version of its "Roadmap to Coverage" report, including important details on the ways to finance a major coverage expansion for the uninsured. No leaks on that!

If Gov. Romney embraces an individual mandate and new health spending, he will be moving significantly forward in his thinking, and we welcome this significant new development. There are reasons to be cautious, ie:

If the plan does not contain significant subsidies for low and moderate income persons, the individual mandate will be completely unworkable;

If the plan contains unaffordable cost sharing -- copays, deductibles, premiums -- it will also be unworkable;

An individual mandate could become a major incentive for employers now providing coverage to workers to stop doing so -- a huge cost shift from businesses to individuals and to taxpayers.

That being said, we're delighted to see Governor Romney embrace new spending and mandates. What's coming next?