Massachusetts Health Reform: A Giant Step Toward Universal Coverage?

The upcoming presidential election and the domestic economic scene have captured the top-of-mind attention of both voters and the media. But not far below the top is a profound concern about health care. Will I lose my job and with it my health insurance? Can I afford the ever-increasing costs of rising premiums, higher deductibles and copays? Which candidate’s health plan will best alleviate my concerns?

Many states have taken a broad range of incremental steps to cover their uninsured citizens and address concerns about costs. Massachusetts has gone farther than the others, taking a giant step toward universal coverage. Last month, the Bush Administration announced an extension of the Massachusetts Medicaid waiver and associated federal financial support for its subsidized coverage plan.

The Massachusetts model, enacted in 2006, is being watched closely for lessons that might guide national efforts to reduce the number of uninsured and underinsured nationally. Of particular interest are the individual and employer mandates that are part of the package, and how the state is addressing access and affordability. The ranks of the uninsured in Massachusetts have dropped dramatically, yet questions remain.

Precisely, how is the pursuit of universal coverage progressing in Massachusetts? What impact, if any, are the reforms having on insurance costs? Are the newly insured able to actually get the care they need? Is subsidized coverage “crowding out” employer-sponsored coverage? How are employers responding to the reforms more generally? Can the state afford the subsidies as economic problems affect tax revenues?

To address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and The Commonwealth Fund are sponsoring a November 7 luncheon briefing. Speakers are: Sharon Long, Urban Institute; Jon Gabel, National Opinion Research Center; and Jim Klocke, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Ed Howard of the Alliance and Anne Gauthier of Commonwealth will co-moderate.

Transcript

Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Speaker Presentations

Anne Gauthier Presentation (PowerPoint)
Sharon Long Presentation (PowerPoint)
Jon Gabel Presentation (PowerPoint)
Jim Klocke Presentation (PowerPoint)