A Healthy Blog

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

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Mile High Health Reform Hopes in Colorado

I'm in Denver for a FamiliesUSA board of directors meeting, and while here, had the chance to connect with CO public officials and activists on their health reform dreams, intentions, plans and progress. Back in 2006, a Republican Governor and Republican controlled Legislature agreed to establish a special commission to come up with plans to create universal health care and to report back no later than then end of January 2008. The group is called the Blue Ribbon Commission for Healthcare Reform, though insiders refer to is as the "208 Commission" -- guess they're as imaginative as we are... Read more »

MA Is Number One in Health Spending, Again

It's not news that MA has the highest per capita health spending in the nation, but the new Health Affairs study offers some helpful insights in understanding the nature of our dubious distinction. The numbers: 2004 -- $6683 vs. $5283 for the nation. Average growth 1998-2004, 6.2% in MA vs. 6.3% in US. In 1998, MA was 127% of the US rate; in 2004, we were 126%. Some interesting comments: "In 2004, the ten states with the highest per capita personal health care spending were Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and... Read more »

Harvard Pilgrim to the Rescue -- in Maine

Portland Press Herald reports (click here) that Harvard Pilgrim Health Care is taking over stewardship of Maine's DirigoChoice insurance program which provides subsidized insurance coverage now to about 14,000 state residents. HPHC will take over the program from Anthem, the giant national for-profit insurer which repeatedly tussled with state policy makers over the program. HPHC currently covers about 54,000 Maine residents through conventional and self-insured products. The Dirigo program is the centerpiece of a health reform law signed in Maine in 2003 -- lower-cost Dirigo plans are... Read more »

It's Hot in California Right Now

Today, the California Senate and Assembly are debating an enormous health reform bill that has the support of key consumer, senior, labor and other groups -- advanced by Democratic leaders. Gov. Schwarzenegger is threatening a veto and the calling of a special session to do it all over again. Click here for the Health Access California blog -- a great place for blow by blow accounts. Apparently there's some kind of individual mandate for individuals for whom premiums would not exceed 5% of income. Read more »

Arnold Defends His Health Plan to Republicans

Click here to read CA Gov. Arnold Swarzenegger's 9/7/07 speech to the CA Republican Party. Here's what he had to say about his health care plan: "The surveys show that a majority of our own party also wants us to work for comprehensive health care, not stand in its way. My proposal is not a European socialist plan. It's not a Canadian single payer plan that is driving Canadians across our border for health care. My plan is a good faith attempt at a market-based solution. Never in history has medicine ever been able to make such a difference in peoples' lives. And we will be on the losing end... Read more »

All Eyes on California -- Will They Do It?

The big enchilada in state health reform is California -- where Gov. Schwarzenegger and Democratic leaders in the Senate and Assembly are committed to reform, just strikingly different versions. A report in today's LA Times, click here, shows how a deal might get done, through an unusual collaboration between the Governor and the Assembly Speaker, and a curious combination of legislation and a ballot initiative. The legislative session officially ends on September 14, though many legislators want to be done no later than the 11th because of Jewish holidays. Keep your eyes on California. A... Read more »

National Guide to "Connectors"

Michael Miller and Christine Barber, our colleagues at Community Catalyst, have created "A Consumer Guide to Creating a Health Insurance Connector." Click here for the full report. They explore strengths and weaknesses of the Connector, using the Massachusetts prototype as their touchstone. Read more »

Things Are Moving in California

Check out the 7/1/07 post on the California Health Access Blog for details on the emerging health access package in the CA legislature. Favorite line: ardent single payer supporter, Sen. Sheila Kuehl, speaking at the hearing: Sen. Sheila Kuehl joked that she didn’t like AB8 as much as she liked her own bill, SB840, and she thanked Speaker Nunez’s strong support of her proposal. That said, Kuehl acknowledged that in her role as Health Committee Chair, “my responsibility is ‘in the realm of the possible and in the realm of the present.’” And one other note of interest: Kuehl urged that in... Read more »

Spitzer Sets a Universal Health Agenda for NYS

From yesterday's NYTimes, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is directing key folks in his Adminstration to start work on a universal health coverage plan for New York State: Mr. Spitzer has directed the health commissioner and the insurance superintendent to draw up a plan by next summer for providing universal coverage, the governor and top officials said on Tuesday in interviews, though they cautioned that it would take several years to carry out. Mr. Spitzer is aiming to reduce the roughly 2.8 million uninsured residents by half in his four-year term, following up on a campaign pledge, and... Read more »

States and Pres Candidates Wrestle on Health Care

Two important articles in national papers today on health reform: one on state health reform, and the other on the presidential campaign health conversation: First, NYTimes -- click here -- covers the uncertain fate of Gov. Ed Rendell's ambitious health reform plan in Pennsylvania. Seems pretty close to "stick a fork in it, cuz it's all done" time: Read more »

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