Massachusetts Employers, Insurers Lobby For Affordable Health Insurance

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Massachusetts businesses and most of the state's health insurance providing companies on Wednesday announced the formation of the Coalition for Affordable Health Coverage, a lobbying group that will work to control rising health care costs in the state and prevent cost-shifting to employers, thus making the health insurance more affordable, the Boston Globe reports. The group will work to avoid increased fees for employers who do not offer health benefits for workers and oppose raising the "reasonable" contribution standards under the Massachusetts health insurance law.

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During the group's first meeting in Boston,Charles Baker -- CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the state's second-largest health plan -- said many U.S. residents wrongly equate higher spending with better care. He said, "The notion that the more you spend the better you are in health care is a giant urban myth." Baker supports consumer-driven health care, which includes higher deductibles and co-payments that work as a disincentive for patients to go to physicians too often or use other unnecessary medical services. However, Amy Lischko, a former state health official and an assistant professor at Tufts University, said there are limits to how people will respond to consumer-driven plans. She said, "Consumers really don't act like rational economists do," adding, "They're not going to change the doctor they've been seeing for 10 years because a visit is going to cost $5 more."

Health care advocates, including the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, said last week that they would work to get businesses to contribute more toward their employees' health care. The coalition is working to fight those efforts, according to Eileen McAnneny, vice president of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the state's largest business lobby and aco-founder of the coalition. She added that the coalition also is working to prevent additional health care mandates (Krasner, Boston Globe,6/5).

Reprinted with 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/ . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation. 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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