A Healthy Blog

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

Tommy Thompson: 20 states will have ind. mandate, + our health plans are the best

Tommy Thompson: 20 states will have ind. mandate, + our health plans are the best

October 27, 2006

Two interesting items in today's news:

1. Kaisernetwork Health Policy Report reports that former federal HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson "told reporters that states likely will take the lead on health care reform in the absence of federal action, CQ HealthBeat reports. According to Thompson, regardless of whether Democrats take control of Congress after the midterm elections, federal action on health care likely will not occur until 2008, when he expects the issue to play an important role in the presidential election. He also said that at least 20 states likely will follow the lead of Massachusetts and pass laws to require residents to purchase health insurance."

2. Jeff Krasner reported in the Globe that Massachusetts

"boasts three of the country's top four health plans, according to rankings being released today by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a respected Washington nonprofit.

"Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the state's second-largest health plan, with about 1 million members, is ranked number one for the second consecutive year.

"Tufts Health Plan, the third-largest in Massachusetts, improved its ranking from third to second place. And Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the largest plan, with about 3 million members, went from fifth place to fourth.

"... Fallon Community Health Plan, which is strongest in Central Massachusetts but is expanding into Eastern Massachusetts, also performed well. It is ranked 11th, down from ninth last year."

The best comment on the significance of the high rankings was from NCQA's John Friedman: "If all health plans performed at these levels, we'd save thousands of lives a year."

Brian Rosman