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

MA Health Reform

See Who Likes the New MA Health Reform Law...

Read between the lines and see a notable point of agreement between Shalala and Thompson (from today's Kaiser Daily Briefing): Read more »

New Report on MA Health Reform by Community Catalyst

HCFA's national partner, Community Catalyst, has published a first rate, balanced, and informative overview of the new Massachusetts health reform law. Click here to obtain. Massachusetts Health Reform: What It Does, How It Was Done, Challenges Ahead was written by Catalyst staffer Michael Miller who has been working on this stuff for as long as I have. Great contribution. Read more »

Burning Question 1: Will Employers Pay $295 and Drop Coverage?

We're hearing it from many quarters. Judy Meredith asked me to address it. Under health reform, employers who cover their workers and have 11 or more full-time equivalent workers must pay a $295 per worker annual assessment to the state -- a charge estimated to accrue $45 million in FY07. Why, many ask, won't employers stop offering coverage and pay the $295. The individual mandate puts the onus on individuals, giving even more excuse for employer escape. Reasonable, good question. We don't think so. Why? Let's conceptualize three employer types who now provide coverage: Type A: employers who... Read more »

Can They Be Talking about the Same Law? Adventures in Post Modernism II

Sunday's Globe had a well written op-ed by Dem State Committee Chair Phil Johnston and Blue Cross Foundation Pres. Nancy Turnbull promoting the new health reform statute. Here's a snippet: For political liberals like us, who have long embraced employer mandates, putting the onus on the individual has been hard to accept. But like Senator Edward Kennedy and others, we've become frustrated by the ideological impasse that has prevented progress on health reform for many decades. So we embrace this bill's novel approach of combining an individual mandate with subsidies to make coverage affordable... Read more »

Today's NYT Editorial Gets It Right on MA Health Reform

In the huge volume of writing on the MA health reform law, today's New York Times editorial gets it as well as anything else I've read: The federal government has done such a miserable job of providing health insurance for the 46 million Americans who lack it that states around the country have been forced to step in with their own plans. The latest and boldest effort was signed into law this week in Massachusetts. It is a carefully crafted plan with elements that could serve as a model for elsewhere, provided Massachusetts finds sufficient funds to make it all work. The cornerstone of the... Read more »

To the Winner Go the Spoils -- Meet David Massey V

Meet the winner of the first Healthy Blog contest -- David Massey V (yes, the fifth!). Good genes in that family. Edging out all the smart and sophisticated readers of this blog was David, 16 ("almost 17"), Brookline High junior. He came today to collect his just reward. Apparently, lunch with me was not an attraction -- he wants to add to his t-shirt collection. Nonetheless, he stuck around long enough to answer some questions from yours truly. How did he guess the day and hour of the health reform conference committee filing within 24 hours? "Actually, I intended to guess March 4th but... Read more »

Daniel Schorr on MA Health Reform

I've been a big fan of Daniel Schorr's since Watergate -- so it's with pleasure that I print this column of his which appeared on National Public Radio and Christian Science Monitor: In Massachusetts, a nonpartisan good deed In an era of political enmity, a bill emerges for universal healthcare. By Daniel Schorr – Full disclosure requires me to reveal that I have a vested interest in the subject of health insurance. In 1970 I wrote a book titled "Don't Get Sick In America." It argued that with ballooning healthcare costs, national health insurance was an issue whose time had come. Sen. Edward... Read more »

Health Reform: It's Chapter 58

The Health Reform bill has an official name: Chapter 58 of the Acts of 2006. You can read the bill and see the language vetoed by the Governor on the official legislative web site, here. Read more »

Paying for Health Reform -- Yes It's a Real Issue

Today's Globe throws some cold water on yesterday's health reform bill signing by correctly noting that the new law faces long and even medium term funding pressures. It's true, and for details see the Healthy Blog posting for April 9th where we show the actual cost projections over the first three years. Year three -- fiscal 2009 -- shows a deficit of $167 million; this is balanced by surpluses in the first two years, providing a balanced spending plan for the first three years. Beyond that, significant issues. Read more »

Our Postmodern Health Reform Moment

Most of what's real or "true" right now regarding the new Massachusetts health reform law is only words on a page: the words of a statute signed into law today; the words of a veto message. The avalanche of commentary in the media, here, and everywhere is not truth -- it's the attempt to shape meaning so that this or that group's or individual's interpretation will become the accepted version of truth down the road. Truth vs. interpretation -- my advice: don't confuse the two. And an awful lot of interpretation runs around masquerading as truth. Read more »

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