Boston Globe -
Apr. 7: On the third anniversary of Massachusetts' landmark health insurance overhaul, a new report shows that employers, consumers, and state government paid the same, proportionately, for health coverage after 2006 as they did the year before the initiative started.
The study, released yesterday from the Center for Health Law and Economics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, found that employers contributed about half (48 percent) of the overall spending on coverage in Massachusetts in 2007. Individuals accounted for about a quarter of the total, and government - divided between the state and federal level - contributed about 27 percent.
"With all the criticism from the left and the right before health reform started - that individuals will have to pay more or that government will have to pay too much - this says both of the concerns are unfounded," said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-funded public policy group. The foundation played a key role in creating the 2006 law.
The report, commissioned by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, found that overall spending on healthcare coverage increased $4.7 billion, or 23 percent. Nearly $21 billion was spent on coverage in 2005, while $25.5 billion was spent in 2007. But the majority of the increase, the report found, was not from the new law.
Sixty percent of the rise was due to healthcare inflation unrelated to the law. Another 31 percent was linked to new enrollment in already-existing programs, such as employer-paid healthcare or Medicaid, according to the report.
And the debate continues...
Also today from the Sac Bee:
Apr. 7: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger briefly returned his attention Monday to universal health care, a subject he hoped to make part of his legacy before the state had to focus on the more basic task of paying its bills amid a multibillion-dollar deficit.
The Republican governor, along with Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, hosted the fifth and final regional White House health care forum in Los Angeles. The town-hall style meeting came as Congress is constructing a health care overhaul plan.
President Barack Obama and congressional leaders have taken the lead on health care this year after states and cities pursued their own universal coverage efforts in recent years. "The action is now," Schwarzenegger said. "Not acting would be irresponsible. We've got to act and we've got to create the action, and this is the year we have got to do it."
In California, lawmakers last year rejected a plan that would have cost nearly $15 billion. Proponents, including Schwarzenegger, said the plan would have been self-funded. But opponents feared that it would have worsened the state's budget deficit.
Congressional Democrats have built a framework that would require all people to have health insurance while demanding that insurers cover all patients regardless of pre-existing conditions, similar to California's plan. But the proposal has big questions, such as who will foot the bill and to what extent a public alternative to private health insurance should exist.