Massachusetts Private Health Insurance Market Reforms Needed

Armen Hareyan's picture
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The"returns" of Massachusetts'health insurance law "are rolling in, and the critics lookprescient," a Wall Street Journal editorial states. The Journalwrites, "First, the plan isn't 'universal' at all." There was "areduction" in the number of uninsured state residents, but "it wasnot secured through the market reforms that [former Gov. Mitt Romney (R)]promised," the Journal states, adding, "Instead, Massachusetts alsocreated a new state entitlement that is already trembling on the verge ofbankruptcy inside of a year."

According to the Journal, "One lesson here is that whilepledging 'universal' coverage is easy, the harder problem is paying forit." Romney's "fundamental mistake was focusing on making healthinsurance 'universal' without first reforming the private insurancemarket," the Journal writes. The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector "that was supposed to linkindividuals to private insurance options has barely been used, as lower-incomeworkers flood to the public options," the editorial states."Meanwhile, low-cost private insurers continue to avoid the state becauseit imposes multiple and costly mandates on all policies," the Journaladds.

The Journal writes that the "Massachusettsnonmiracle ought to be a warning to Washington."Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) andBarack Obama (Ill.) "are both proposing versions of RomneyCare on anational scale, with similar promises that covering everyone under a governmentplan will reduce costs," according to the Journal. However,the "real problem in health care is the way the tax code and third-partypayment system distort incentives," the Journal writes."That's where [presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. JohnMcCain (Ariz.)] has been focusing his reform efforts -- because that reallydoes have the potential to reduce costs while covering more of the uninsured --and Republicans ought to follow his lead," the editorial states (WallStreet Journal, 5/21).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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