Massachusetts Miracle

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Through the cracks of health reform

Glenn Koenig, Arlington, Boston Globe, February 17, 2008 The health law
might be working from where you sit, but it's definitely not working
for us. As self-employed, middle-aged, middle-income people, my wife
and I are now paying 20 percent of our total pretax income in premiums.
And our plan still has significant deductibles and copays. Now you want
both the state and federal government to take more money out of my
pocket in taxes to help pay for this system? Follow the money, and it
ends up in the pockets of the drug and insurance companies. Those of us
who are self-employed or owners of small businesses are the economic
engine on which this state depends. This law will drive us out of the
state. Then watch as total tax receipts drop. It's time the people in

Through the cracks of health reform

Betsy Smith, Brewster, Boston Globe, February 17, 2008 The headline of your lead February 10 editorial, "The health law is working," would be correct if you added two words: "for many." For me, however,
it has not produced the promised affordable insurance. It has provided
excellent options for those qualifying for free or subsidized plans,
but it has failed miserably those of us earning slightly more than 300
percent of the poverty level. ... Through

The danger in big promises

Chicago Tribune Editorial, February 17, 2008 Barack Obama and Hillary
Clinton are making big promises on health care. Big and expensive
promises. They essentially promise health care for all, at a cost that
won't bust the federal budget. That's the campaign trail. But then
there's reality. Massachusetts, which drew national attention with its
bold plan to cover everyone in the state with health insurance, is just
now learning the real cost of its venture. And the real cost is
staggering. State officials expected the program would initially cost
$472 million a year. The real number this year: $618 million. ... The

Predictable failure of 'reform'

David Lotto, Pittsfield, Berkshire Eagle, February 16, 2008

Health Safety Net introduces co-pays

Community Partners, February 15, 2008 Starting on March 3, hospital and
health center patients who use the Health Safety Net (formerly Free
Care) may be charged co-pays for certain services. Co-pays may be
required for prescriptions and some hospital visits. Children under 19
will not be charged for any services or prescriptions, and some lab
services may be excluded as well. Co-pay charges may not exceed $250
per person per year (Oct. 1 through September 30), and individuals are
responsible for documenting this total. Hospitals and health centers
will be responsible for collecting the co-pays. ... Health

Health plan rates may rise by 14%

State officials worry previously insured may enter program. Alice
Dembner, Boston Globe, February 15, 2008 To hold down state costs,
officials are considering raising premiums as much as 14 percent and
doubling some copayments for the subsidized insurance program that is
at the heart of healthcare reform. State officials said they want to
ensure that the program, called Commonwealth Care, does not collapse
under the weight of soaring costs or under a potential influx of
residents whose employers drop coverage because the program offers a
better deal for their workers. ... Health

Health plans sold via state likely to cost 5% more

Alice Dembner, Boston Globe, February 14, 2008 Premiums for private
health insurance plans sold through the state are likely to rise an
average of about 5 percent over last year's prices - roughly half as
much as plans for people covered through their employers, according to
a state memo released yesterday. The moderate increase expected for
nonsubsidized Commonwealth Choice plans is good news for the state in
its attempt to keep private insurance affordable for moderate income
people who do not have access to insurance through work. The program
represents a small part of the state's healthcare reform initiative.
... Health

Connector Proposes CommCare Premiums & Copay Increases

Brian Rosman, Health Care For All - Massachusetts, February 13, 2008
The Connector has posted the staff-recommended proposal for next year’s
Commonwealth Care premiums and copays. As we feared, it’s not pretty.
Here’s our questions: did the Connector consult with any members
enrolled in Commonwealth Care before advancing this proposal? Did they
consult with health centers and physicians and hospitals seeing
Commonwealth Care patients? Is the proposal based on what’s affordable
and medically appropriate for members, or is just part of the attempt
to find budget savings everywhere possible? ... Connector

Consumer Group Finds Use of Outdated Data

Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights, February 12, 2008 Santa
Monica, CA - A consumer group today released a critique of a report by
MIT economist Jonathan Gruber supporting mandatory purchase of private
insurance which used 30 year-old data to show that most Americans are
"over-insured" and to defend the affordability of the plan. ... Consumer

Welcome to the Massachusetts Miracle!

This new category, entitled Massachusetts Miracle, is being added so
that readers of Seachange Bulletin can follow more closely the
unfolding drama of Chapter 58 of the Massachusetts General Laws of
2006, the Partners Healthcare/Blue Cross-Blue Shield creation, with
essential features inspired by Mitt Romney’s friends at the
conservative Heritage Foundation, and promulgated by the liberal Urban
Institute as the “only way for Massachusetts to achieve universal
health care,” a bipartisan assault on working people, their communities
and their institutions. Much material has already been posted in the
Health Reform category of Seachange Bulletin, and Chapter 58 must be
seen in the context of the national and global fight against

MA: Controlling health care costs

Patriot Ledger Editorial, February 12, 2008 The cost of health
care continues its inexorable rise, bringing with it a host of
problems: more people uninsured or underinsured, more spending diverted
from other purposes, employers profit margins shrunk, state and
municipal budgets stressed. Presidential candidates from both parties
have looked to Massachusetts health reform law for answers, but they
won’t find effective cost controls here. ... MA

State looking to smokers to finance health care law

David Kibbe, Cape Cod Times, February 11, 2008 Boston - Massachusetts
smokers would pay as much as $1 a pack in new taxes under a proposal
being considered by legislative leaders to help pay for the state's
health care expansion. Health care advocates say a $1 increase in the
cigarette tax would raise about $150 million, while encouraging smokers
to quit the habit. House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, D-Boston, and Senate
President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, are open to the idea, although
they have not endorsed a specific dollar figure. "It's something we are
looking at," said DiMasi's spokesman, David Guarino. ... MA

Estimated cost of state's health plan raises alarm

Leonard Rodberg, New York, Boston Globe, February 10, 2008 Jonathan
Gruber suggests that a single-payer system "would cost many multiples"
of the current effort to expand health insurance coverage in
Massachusetts through an individual mandate ("Recognizing progress in Massachusetts health reform,"
Letters, February 1). Yet at least 18 studies conducted since 1991,
including two that examined single-payer plans for Massachusetts in
1998, have found that a single-payer plan could provide comprehensive
coverage for everyone while costing less than is now being spent.

Estimated cost of state's health plan raises alarm

Donald J. Gudaitis, Framingham, Boston Globe, February 10, 2008 Is the
choice between fighting cancer and financial ruin really a choice?
That's the scenario too many Americans face without access to quality
care. Last month the American Cancer Society released a report about
the critical link between cancer outcomes and health insurance, a
connection at the heart of the group's support for Massachusetts'
healthcare reform law. The real issue raised by Alice Dembner's
front-page article is not unforeseen cost or revenue options, but
rather how we respond to the latest test of our state's commitment to
preserving quality care. There are long-term solutions to the revenue
issue - a tobacco tax increase, for example - but sacrificing quality

Estimated cost of state's health plan raises alarm

Brian Keegan, Attleboro, Boston Globe, February 10, 2008 The cost of
the new Massachusetts health plan was quite high to start. Now
estimates have spiked just as it leaves the gate ("Subsidized care plan's cost to double,"
Page A1, February 3). Among folks who run households, pay taxes, and
struggle to get by, there's one pretty obvious thought: Pull the plug
now. Meanwhile, with no sense of irony, other folks decry inadequate
public school funding ... Estimated

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