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

National Health Reform

Governor Patrick: Health Care Reform Works in Massachusetts and It Will Work in America

Governor Patrick published a piece in the Huffington Post today with the self-explaining title, "Health Care Reform Works in Massachusetts and It Will Work in America." In the piece, the Governor goes beyond the statistics and presents some stories (that's how we roll, too): I met a young woman named Jaclyn, a cancer survivor who got life-saving care through our version of an exchange. She had no way to afford care before health care reform -- it saved her life. A self-employed man named Ken ignored his gastrointestinal symptoms for years because he couldn't afford to see a doctor or pay for... Read more »

Too Much Ongoing At Once Edition (plus a funny video at the end)

October 1 was full up in HCFAland. At the State House, the Public Health Committee held a hearing on a number of bills dealing with prescription drugs and related topics. HCFA advocated forcefully for restricting prescription drug marketing that interferes with the doctor-patient relationship. A number of consumers also joined us in testifying in support of our bill to "remove barriers to cost-effective care." The bill, H. 2084, would eliminate co-pays and deductibles for cost-effective prescription medications and treatments in order to increase adherence, and help patients avoid further... Read more »

Obamacare in Massachusetts: Incremental Transformation

Understandably, there's lots media attention on October 1 as the D-Day for health reform. The health insurance marketplaces will be newly open in every state (of course, in  Massachusetts we've had our Health Connector since 2006),  and people can shop for both subsidized and unsubsidized coverage. But it's just the start of an open enrollment period that will continue through next March. Even if someone enrolls on October 1, coverage doesn't begin until January. Still, October 1 is a critical date. For us in Massachusetts, though, October 1 is more of a milestone along an evolutionary path... Read more »

It’s World Contraception Day!

[Today's guest blog is by Erica Brunner, former HCFA staffer and now a leader at NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.] In the past, laws like those that prevented unmarried women from accessing contraception were the main barrier women faced in controlling their health and bodies. However, in recent years the cost of contraception and office visits necessary to obtain a prescription have resulted in a financial burden that can be as high as $600 a month out-of-pocket—a barrier for many women to access basic reproductive health care. Read more »

Texas vs. Massachusetts: Their Best Is Our Worst

Rapper Nas has spit a great rhyme in his song Make the World Go Round: I'm a rare dude, I'm a wonder, your best success is my worst blunder Today, a post on Health Affairs blog, Plano, Texas Vs. Revere, Massachusetts: Sorting Through The Differing Causes And Durations Of Uninsurance made the same point in the realm of uninsurance rates. The worst in Massachusetts equals the best in Texas: Read more »

Déjà vu on employers and ACA

Today's Boston Globe off-lead story, Mass. firms mull cuts in health benefits, reminds me of a song. Or perhaps songs. For me, it's Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, one of the first records I ever bought.  For others, it might be a different Déjà Vu, maybe by Beyoncé (with Jay Z). Or perhaps Eminem, or Dionne Warwick. Read more »

All Your Base Rates Are Belong To Us: Springfield Republican Reports on Premiums Under Obamacare

Yesterday, a story by Shira Schoenberg in the Springfield Republican  covered the just-approved health insurance rates for next year: Read more »

Remember That Dire ACA Forecast? Never Mind.

Remember that dire report commissioned by the Mass Association of Health Plans from July (it's here (pdf))? Never mind. The report was an attempt to forecast the impact of the ACA on small group and individual premiums in Massachusetts. The ominous Globe headline was "National health care overhaul apt to push up costs." The story said: The analysis, by Wakely Consulting Group, projects President Obama’s health care law — supported by the Patrick administration — will tack an average of 3.7 percent on to premiums. Read more »

Fairness and Responsibility: What Should Happen Now With The Massachusetts Employer Provisions

As we noted on Monday, the budget just sent to Governor Patrick includes provisions repealing the Massachusetts Employer Fair Share statute. We were not supportive of the repeal, but understood the logic: since the federal ACA employer requirements were taking effect in January, it was OK to lose the state structure for just 6 months. Then yesterday, the Obama administration announced that it would not enforce the federal employer fair share provisions for 2014. Ruh-roh. Read more »


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