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

Health Care Politics

The MA Individual Mandate and National Politics

Also in today's NYT, don't miss the article -- click here -- exploring the implementation of the individual mandate and the implications of our work for national policy and politics. Ann F. McEachern, 33, a waitress and student who lives in Cambridge, said she did not buy insurance this year but probably would in 2008. “The penalty in 2007 wasn’t enough to kick it up to the top of my priority list,” Ms. McEachern said. “It’s always nice to be insured, but I think I’m at pretty low risk for anything happening to me that would be financially devastating.” Though officials do not yet have data... Read more »

Repub Rivals Begin Hitting Romney on Individual Mandate

From today's Globe -- at least two of Mitt Romney's Republican presidential nomination rivals are publicly attacking him for his leading role in enactment of the MA individual mandate. Click here for the Globe article. Mitt Romney's top rivals reminded voters that Massachusetts residents had until yesterday to sign up for health insurance or face possible tax penalties - and criticized the mandate as unwarranted government intrusion. Read more »

Health Care's "Dangerous Numbers"

One of my favorite political models is Jon Kingdon’s “agenda setting” construct which suggests that for policy change “window of opportunity” to open, three streams have to move – the sense of a problem, the existence of a practical policy, and a supportive political environment. It starts with a sense of a problem. If folks don’t accept that an issue is a legit problem, then it’s back to square one. We saw this in late 1993/early 1994 as Republican opponents to the Clinton health reform plan (prominently William Kristol) launched attacks by asserting there was no health system “crisis”... Read more »

Sen. Pres. Murray Talks Tough on Health Care

Senate President Therese Murray spoke this morning before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Fightin' words, seems to us. And welcome ones as well. Below are the health sections of her written comments: …These incentives are imperative as we continue to address the problem of primary care and the rising health costs in our Commonwealth. Before health care reform became law in April 2006, there were an estimated 500,000 Massachusetts residents without health insurance. Today, Massachusetts has enrolled more than 200,000 newly-insured individuals in just over a year. Enrollment has... Read more »

Romney: "Half of my uninsured are now insured, and I am proud of what we’ve done."

We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried. Full Republican Debate transcript available by clicking here. ROMNEY: We solved the problem of health care in our state not by having the government take it over, the way Hillary Clinton would – with private free-enterprise approaches. … MODERATOR: Governor Romney, we have an e-mailed question from Kendrick of Oakland, California, who says the health plan you left in Massachusetts, which required people to get their own insurance, amounts to Hillary Care. You say it was the result of a Democratic legislature. I want to ask you: If a Democratic... Read more »

A Granular Look at the Romney Health Proposal

Bob Laszewski, who writes the smartly written Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review Blog, has done something we have not had the stomach to do -- review Mitt Romney's presidential campaign health reform proposal on its own terms. Click here for his take. Not surprisingly, he finds it wanting. And he finds delicious ironies in the differences between Romney as Governor, and Romney as Presidential Candidate. Read more »

Great New Side-by-Side of Pres. Candidates' Health Proposals

Check out Kaiser's new site, detailing all the proposals advanced thus far by the Democratic and Republican candidates for president -- click here. As usual, superbly done. Read more »

MHA Unveils Updated "Patients First" Website

The Massachusetts Hospital Association has re-engineered their Patients First website to include new information, including falls and falls with injuries for all Massachusetts hospitals. The site has been updated in collaboration with their partners, the MA Organization of Nurse Executives. The site, www.patientsfirstma.org has useful information and is worth checking out. There is lots of pressure on hospitals, other providers, and health plans to disclose all kinds of information -- so it's worth noting when an organization voluntarily makes useful information available to the public. Read more »

Kids Mental Health Reform Moves Forward

Yesterday, 10/1/07, the Legislature's Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse reported favorably a redrafted version of the Children’s Mental Health bill (H.1872). New number to follow. This is an important step on the road to passage. The major change made by the Committee was to eliminate the expansion of mental health parity; the Committee seems intent to report that initiative as a separate piece of legislation in the next few weeks. Big thanks to Rep. Ruth Balser (House Chair and bill sponsor), Sen. Gale Candaras (Senate Chair) and Sen. Steven Tolman (bill sponsor and... Read more »

Talk Back to Sect. Mike Leavitt on SCHIP

US Health & Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt uses his blog to defend President Bush's veto of the SCHIP authorization -- click here. He's open for comments. Check it out and let him know what you think... Read more »

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