Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lessons from Massachusetts: Don't wait for feds

National Lessons from State Health Reform: The Massachusetts Case Study
Capitol Hill briefing, Feb. 25, 2009

Editorializing on what lessons Massachusetts' 2006 health-care reform has for a national plan, The Boston Globe claims that insurance now covers almost 98 percent of state residents, but notes that, "In Massachusetts, reform won such broad support in part because the bill focused solely on expanding access to the uninsured and did not attempt to control health cost inflation at the same time."

In other words, the state's reform policy, which provides insurance subsidies to the poor but fines people who don't buy in, posed no threat to insurance interests, pharmaceutical companies or other medical cash cows, so opposition was slight, unlikely with any national program. Meanwhile, as Massachusetts medical personnel, politicians and others testify in the video above, the state-mandated increases in access to health insurance don't add up to equivalent access to health care, but simply more people paying for expensive, inadequate policies.

Illinois needs to do better. The lesson this state can take from Massachusetts, however, is not to just sit back and wait for whatever the feds dream up. A national plan may take another 10 years to happen, or may never happen. As Capital Times columnist John Nichols points out, Pres. Obama seems to be deliberately leaving serious reformers such as Chicago's Dr. Quentin Young out of the health-care policy discussion.

Meanwhile, more than 1.8 million Illinoisans lack health coverage. Our affordable care options are few and overburdened. Some 40,000 Illinoisans are bankrupted by medical bills every year, and three-quarters of them had insurance when they got sick. People here need help now.

Yet the only action I see on the local horizon is House Bill 311, The Health Care for All Illinois Act, which seems to be getting little attention and will likely face stiff opposition.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you have trouble posting a comment, your browser privacy settings may be interfering. Change your settings to allow third-party cookies (session cookies will do) or add an exception for I apologize, but this is a Blogger issue over which I have no control.