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

Health Care Politics

Legislative Arcana: MA Legislative Filing Deadline Pushed Back

This is only for those of you who pay close attention to the legislative process (like we do). The bill filing deadline for the 2007-08 session of the Massachusetts Legislature has officially been moved back to the 2nd Wednesday in January, January 10th in this case. (It had always been the first Wednesday in December.) The session convenes on the first Wednesday in January, and will convene next January with the swearing in of a new governor. Wonder who that will be? Read more »

Kerry's Health Plan Shows the Shifting Ground

Sen. John Kerry held a Faneuil Hall event yesterday to announce his ideas to provide health coverage to all Americans. Click here for the Boston Globe account. Key details: Kerry's plan would start with health coverage for all children by boosting federal reimbursements to states through their Medicaid programs. It also would allow individuals and employers to purchase the same health plan available to federal employees, and would reduce insurance costs across the board by having the federal government pick up catastrophic care insurance. Read more »

Where Health Reform Gets Rocky

Spent the latter part of last week in Colorado at the invitation of the Colorado Health Foundation. Folks out there are interested in kicking the tired on the MA health reform plan. I tried to give 'em just the facts and let them draw their own conclusions. Some observations: Lots and lots of interest in what we did. A Denver Chamber of Commerce lunch drew over 300 folks. Four health care foundations -- all resulting from non-profit to for-profit conversations -- are collaborating to jump start reform interest in the state which has about 17% uninsured compared with our rate of under 10... Read more »

Legislature Overrides Romney Veto of PCA Bill (now Law)

Congrats to Service Employees International Union 1199 for a huge legislative win. Yesterday, the House and Senate overwhelmingly overrode Gov. Romney's veto of the so-called PCA bill. Read more »

Celebrating a Decade of Progress for Kid's Health Access

Ten years ago this month, the Massachusetts Legislature overrode a veto by then Governor Bill Weld to make a promise of universal coverage for all children in Massachusetts. It's been a wild ten years with ups and downs. Lots of progress and lots of continuing challenges. On Monday, July 17, we'll consider the progress of the past ten years in expanding coverage to all kids in Massachusetts in a morning celebration at the State House, Great Hall, 9am to 12 noon. Click here for more details. We'll also spend time looking ahead to consider what are the next steps in creating the best... Read more »

I Get Down with the Retailers

Today I traveled to Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle, NH to participate in a panel discussion at the annual conference of the Eastern States Retail Association. Jon Hurst, head of the MA Retailers, invited me. Though Jon and I disagree on loads of things, he’s a first rate advocate for his industry and a terrific guy. And the meeting included reps from key “employer responsibility” battleground states such as Maryland, New York Vermont, Rhode Island and more – about 25 folks in all. Not too shabby a place, and a great schedule for attendees – 3-4 hours of morning meetings followed by... Read more »

When Is a Law Not a Law?

This is just delicious. December 2005, Congress passes and President Bush signs the Deficit Reduction Act, making deep cuts to all kinds of domestic spending while they cut taxes further for the wealthy. The controversial requirement for all Medicaid clients to provide citizenship documentation -- it's all part of DRA. Turns out, due to a Senate typo, the House and Senate did not approve the exactly same bill -- see today's New York Times editorial -- you know, the stuff you learned in 7th grade civics class. No problem -- Speaker Hastert and Senate leaders signed a statement saying it was... Read more »

WSJ on "Wal-Mart Tax Fizzle"

Today's Wall Street Journal does an editorial obituary on the so-called Wal-Mart tax movement. In January, the Maryland legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto to enact a requirement on for-profit firms with 10K+ workers (only Walmart) that they must pay at least eight percent of payroll on health benefits or pay the difference to the state. WSJ is correct that no other state has followed this path despite bills filed in 33 states to do so. Read more »

MassACT Pulls Plug on 06 Ballot Initiative

Today, the MassACT Coalition announced it will not file the final set of signatures to qualify the MassACT ballot initiative for the November 2006 state ballot. Coalition members collected more than 25,000 of the needed 11,000 signatures to qualify. (138,000 signatures collected, fall and spring, all by volunteers.) The deadline for filing is today at 5pm. The decision was announced at a noon press conference in front of the State House that displayed the final set of signatures. Why? Chiefly, the health reform law passed in April met most major goals of the MassACT campaign - especially... Read more »

Dems Debate Health Care

HCFA and I are unaligned in this year’s race for Governor. I like all three Dems. So I watched tonight’s NECN debate on health care to see how they would present their positions and frame issues. Following are notes and comments. Taking them on substance, Gabrieli won on most points. Examples: HEALTH CARE REFORM: Frank Phillips and Martha Bebinger asked the hard question – Is there enough money, and if not, how will you pay for it. Gabrieli: I salute everyone trying to get the state to be different. Next four years we’ve got a lot of work to do. I don’t think it adds up If an... Read more »

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