AFL-CIO President Criticizes Massachusetts Health Care Bill
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney last week said a recently enacted Massachusetts law that requires residents to have health insurance "provides little hope for middle class families" and "sends the wrong message to other states looking for answers to their own health care crises," CQ HealthBeat reports.
Sweeney said the law would provide subsidies only to lower-income state residents to help cover the cost of the health insurance, adding, "Universal health care should mean ... affordable health care for all, not just for the top and the bottom."
In addition, Sweeney criticized Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) for his decision to veto a provision that would have required employers in the state with 10 or more employees to provide health insurance or pay an annual fee of $295 per worker. According to Sweeney, the fee is "meager" compared with the amount most families would have to pay for health insurance, "but, in Romney's eyes, even that was too much to ask of his business friends" (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 4/14).
New York Times: "Massachusetts deserves credit for tackling a problem that Washington is failing to address," a Times editorial states. "By forcing all residents to assume responsibility for their own health coverage, Massachusetts should largely solve" the "free-rider" problem, in which the uninsured "get very expensive care without paying" (New York Times, 4/15).
- Salt Lake Tribune: The Massachusetts Legislature and Romney "deserve credit for being the first to finally do something concrete to address a national crisis," a Tribune editorial states. The Massachusetts law "will require years of fine-tuning" and might "prove too costly" or "too unwieldy," but the legislation "is by far the best plan out there requiring universal health coverage -- since there is no other" (Salt Lake Tribune, 4/16).
- Marcia Angell, Boston Globe: "Like the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the Massachusetts health care plan is a complicated morass that might limp along for a while, but will never cover all the people it is meant to cover," Angell, a former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, writes in a Globe opinion piece. She adds that the Massachusetts law "will become increasingly unaffordable" (Angell, Boston Globe, 4/17).
- Philip Johnston/Nancy Turnbull, Boston Globe: Some questions raised about the Massachusetts law are "legitimate," such as whether the legislation is affordable and whether health insurers can "develop plans that are low cost yet provide real coverage," Johnston, chair of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, and Turnbull, president of the foundation, write in a Globe opinion piece. According to Johnson and Turnbull, "With continued strong collaboration and leadership, Massachusetts can be the first state to show the nation that we can achieve health security for all" (Johnston/Turnbull, Boston Globe, 4/16).
- Robert Kuttner, Boston Globe: Many "key details" of the Massachusetts law "have been left to regulations to be written by the next governor," Kuttner, co-editor of the American Prospect, writes in a Globe opinion piece. He adds, "How to make the system work should be a major issue in the gubernatorial campaign" (Kuttner, Boston Globe, 4/15).
- Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe: Romney "snatched nearly all the credit for addressing a classic Democratic issue" with the enactment of the Massachusetts law, but he likely will not "accept all the blame" in the event the legislation "fails to deliver on its promise," columnist Vennochi writes in a Globe opinion piece. "Romney shouldn't be demonized, but his role in this legislation deserves to be demythified," Vennochi writes (Vennochi, Boston Globe, 4/16).