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The Boston Globe on the Massachusetts Health-Care Reforms

The Boston Globe has a good editorial today on the reality behind the Massachusetts health-care reforms:

Pundits and politicians who oppose universal healthcare for the nation have a new straw man to kick around - the Massachusetts reform plan that covers more than 97 percent of the state’s residents. In the myth that these critics have manufactured, this state’s plan is bleeding taxpayers dry, creating nothing less than a medical Big Dig.

The facts - according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation - are quite different. Its report this spring put the cost to the state taxpayer at about $88 million a year, less than four-tenths of 1 percent of the state budget of $27 billion. Yes, the state recently had to cut benefits for legal immigrants, and safety-net hospital Boston Medical Center has sued for higher state aid. But that is because the recession has cut state revenues, not because universal healthcare is a boondoggle. The main reason costs to the state have been well within expectations? More than half of all the previously uninsured got coverage by buying into their employers’ plans, not by opting for one of the state-subsidized plans.

This should be exciting news for those fiscal conservatives, including both Republicans and “blue dog’’ Democrats, who claim to support the goal of universal coverage while despairing over its budget impact. But that’s not what you hear from the Massachusetts bashers.

It's been convenient for critics of health-care reform to assail the Massachusetts effort. But the Massachusetts effort -- which was focused on coverage, not cost -- worked. It has been a success. It has radically cut the number of uninsured residents. It has come in at about the cost predicted. It has proved popular. And it has given Massachusetts the courage to contemplate much more aggressive cost control than anything that's being consider at the national level, or in another state.

That last bit is important: Doing coverage actually pushed Massachusetts to begin addressing cost. If national health-care reform has a similar effect, it will have been wildly successful.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 5, 2009; 12:53 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments

Ezra, I recently heard the chairman of the Committee on Health Care of the MA State Senate. He pointed out the the main reason, get that, main reason for the success of their health care plan is that every, get that, every health insurance provider in the state is non-profit.

Now I don't care about profits per se, but I do care about the for profit companies efforts to lower their Medical Loss Ratio in order to raise the stock price.

I think you should have mentioned this.

Posted by: lensch | August 5, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse


The ironically beautiful thing about health reform is that is was based on the Massachusetts model, which was, in turn, based on white papers on universal coverage written by the Blue Cross / Blue Shield Association.

If you go back to the Blue Cross / Blue Shield Association, they are now trying to organize a letter-writing campaign against the public option and tame the beast they helped create.

Posted by: ThomasEN | August 5, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"If you go back to the Blue Cross / Blue Shield Association, they are now trying to organize a letter-writing campaign against the public option and tame the beast they helped create."

But that's because most of them are now for profit companies, many owned by WellPoint.

Posted by: lensch | August 5, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

What about the cost to the federal taxpayer? How can that $88MM figure be correct when you consider this...

"Expanding access to insurance has made that problem tougher by adding more than $700 million in annual costs, split evenly with the federal government, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. The annual cost to care for those who were uninsured in 2006 has risen from $1 billion to $1.7 billion."

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-07-22-masshealth_N.htm

Posted by: kingstu01 | August 5, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation is a liberal group that will justify any and all tax increases. Look at their sales tax update. Do they mention the 10's of thousands of people now going to N.H. to buy their stuff? Of course not, they brag about all the out of staters that come to Mass to shop, both of them. Go to any mall over the boarder, all mass cars! They will not address the cost of health insurance, they will raise taxes! I can't wait to get out of this state.

Posted by: obrier2 | August 5, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

But what does Mitt think about it?

Posted by: pj_camp | August 5, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

From the Globe:

"The facts - according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation - are quite different. Its report this spring put the cost to the state taxpayer at about $88 million a year, less than four-tenths of 1 percent of the state budget of $27 billion."

No. The "fact" is that the Mass Taxpayers Foundation estimated that cost *increases* were averaging $88 million per year.

Over the four years they projected, that gets them to $353 million, the Massachusetts taxpayer share of the $700 million in total cost increases noted in the comment above.

The MTF also noted that the private sector has been forced to pick up an additional $750 million of costs:

"In fact, the Foundation estimates that the added cost to Massachusetts employers for newly insured employees and dependents is at least $750 million – more than double the $353 million increase in state spending since health reform was enacted."

Posted by: tom10023 | August 5, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse


Mitt loves it. He built it and take credit. I think part of the problem he's having is the only difference between the plan he helped build, and the reform, is the public option - which isn't a huge difference in terms of architecture. Here's what he said while campaigning:

"As governor of Massachusetts, I led the fight for reforms that used free markets and innovation, rather than big-government control, to lower health-care costs and cover the uninsured. I recently proposed a federalist reform plan that will use these principles to improve America’s health-care system."

Posted by: ThomasEN | August 6, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

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