Massachusetts Health Coverage Mandate Considered
Two newspapers recently published articles addressing the plan passed by the Massachusetts Legislature on Tuesday that would require all uninsured residents to purchase coverage by July 1, 2007, and employers with 11 or more workers to provide health coverage for employees or pay a penalty.
Summaries appear below.
AP/Long Island Newsday: The AP/Newsday on Thursday looked at how the "most radical portion of Massachusetts' move toward universal health care -- a requirement that all residents carry insurance -- is giving indigestion to some who view it as a breathtaking expansion of government power." However, while "[m]any conservatives are embracing the so-called individual mandate," some "liberals and unions," who "typically prefer assessments on employers, which the Massachusetts plan also includes," are "suspicious," according to the AP/Newsday (LeBlanc, AP/Long Island Newsday, 4/7).
- New York Times: The Times on Friday looked how although the Massachusetts legislation "represents an important bipartisan political milestone," the state "now faces an even greater challenge: creating a viable market in affordable insurance policies, so that businesses and individuals will buy the coverage mandated by the bill." According to the Times, "[w]hile state officials say they hope insurers will offer plans that cost only a couple of hundred dollars a month under the new program, no such individual policy exists in Massachusetts today." In addition, "[s]ome experts note that even if Massachusetts can hammer out the details, the state's relatively low number of uninsured residents and strong tradition of employer-sponsored insurance may mean that a similar model may not work in many other states," the Times reports (Abelson, New York Times, 4/7).
In related news, the Wall Street Journal Online on Thursday published an interview with Timothy Murphy, secretary of health and human services in Massachusetts and one of Gov. Mitt Romney's (R) chief advisers on health care reform. According to Murphy, the bill will be funded by "redirect[ed] existing spending" and will help "slow the rate of increase in health insurance premiums" while creating near-universal health coverage (Rubenstein, Wall Street Journal Online, 4/6).
KPCC's "AirTalk" on Thursday included a discussion of the Massachusetts bill and the possibility of implementing a similar policy in California. Guests on the program included:
- Gerald Kominski, associate director of the University of California-Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research;
- Fawn Phelps, campaign manager for HealthCare for All; and
- Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Northridge) (Mantle, "AirTalk," KPCC, 4/6). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.