The Massachusetts’ Plan: A Failed Model for Health Care Reform

A new study shows that the Massachusetts model for national healthcare reform is a failure. Taxpayer subsidized insurance and forcing citizens to buy insurance is supported by the insurance industry and their bought politicians such as US Sen. Max Baucus.

The Massachusetts Reform:
A Rerun of Past State Reforms That Have Failed

Back in 1988, Massachusetts passed a universal health care law very similar to the 2006 reform.   Since 1988, many states—Oregon, Minnesota Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and Maine—have enacted reforms aimed at achieving universal coverage.  All failed.

These reforms differed in detail, but shared common elements. All offered new public subsidies or expanded Medicaid for poor and near-poor people. All left the majority of private health insurance arrangements undisturbed, although many included new insurance regulations or state purchasing pools to help make affordable coverage available to individuals or small businesses. Some (Massachusetts 1988, Oregon 1992, Washington State 1993) contained mandates on employers or self-employed individuals.

None of these reforms made more than a temporary dent in the number of uninsured.   These incremental reforms failed because they did not include effective cost-control measures. As health costs rose, legislatures backed off from forcing employers and the self-employed from paying ever-rising premiums and the mandates were repealed. Relying on Medicaid was fiscally problematic for states because tax revenues fall at the same time that unemployment pushes families out of private coverage.   There is little reason to think that the current Massachusetts reform, or a national plan modeled on these state reforms, would have any better long-term success.

Is there an alternative to this model?

Yes. A bill in Congress, the United States National Health Care Act, H.R. 676   (also known as “The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act”) would implement single-payer financing of health care while maintaining the private delivery system. A single-payer program would eliminate private insurers and use the administrative savings to provide comprehensive coverage for all. Features of the single-payer plan include:

  • Comprehensive coverage for all, including doctor, hospital, long-term, mental health, dental and vision care as well as prescription drugs and medical supplies.
  • No premiums, co-payments, or deductibles that inhibit access to care and unfairly burden the poor.
  • Free choice of doctor and hospital and an end to insurance company and HMO dictates over patient care.
  • Pays for itself by eliminating wasteful private insurance administration and profit. A progressive tax would replace what is currently paid out-of-pocket.
  • Controls costs so benefits are sustainable through negotiated physician fees, global budgets for hospitals and bulk purchasing of prescription drugs and medical supplies.  A single-payer system would facilitate health planning to reestablish the balance between preventive and primary care on one hand, and high-tech tertiary care on the other.

The nation must not look to Massachusetts’ health reform as a model. If we truly want to provide comprehensive health care for all of us at a price we can afford, we must adopt a single-payer plan.

Read the complete analysis here:

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