California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Campaign Marks Sixth Anniversary of Mass. Health Care Law

On Thursday, President Obama's re-election campaign released a Web video to mark the sixth anniversary of the enactment of the Massachusetts health reform law that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney -- who is likely to challenge Obama in November -- signed in 2006 as governor, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.

The three-minute video features supporters talking about the law's benefits and how it served as the model for the 2010 federal health reform law (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 4/12).

The clip includes MIT economics Professor Jonathan Gruber, who says, "I helped Gov. Romney develop his health care reform ... before going down to Washington to help President Obama develop his national version of that law." Gruber adds, "The core of the [federal health reform law] and what we did in Massachusetts are identical" (Sink, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 4/12).

The video also combines various clips of Romney over the years as he touts the benefits of the law and how it could serve as a model for a national version, along with comments he has made on the campaign trail as part of his pledge to repeal the federal law on his "first day" in office if he is elected (Borchers, "Political Intelligence," Boston Globe, 4/12).

Obama campaign officials hope the ad will block possible attacks of the federal law by Romney. They also hope the video serves as "payback" after Republicans in March criticized Obama for not participating in any public events marking the law's two-year anniversary ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 4/12).

Mass. Health Reform Increases Health Care Costs, Experts Say

In related news, the Massachusetts health reform law's expansion of insurance coverage will continue to increase health care costs unless the state or federal government takes action, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the National Journal's "Influence Alley" reports.

The report -- by Zirui Song and Bruce Landon of Harvard Medical School -- notes that health care spending in 2012 "will consume 54% of the state's budget, up from 49% in fiscal year 2009."

Song and Landon add that rising health care costs threaten the state law's "continued viability of its reforms" as well as the "sustainability of every other public service" in the state. They write, "Payment reform may well be a reasonable beginning, but fundamental reform of the delivery system is needed if we are to truly succeed" (Frates, "Influence Alley," National Journal, 4/12).

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