New York Times Addresses Massachusetts Health Insurance Law

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The New YorkTimes onThursday published several letters to the editor responding to a June 16editorial discussing the Massachusetts Health Care Law of 2006. According tothe editorial, the state plan "is off to a good start and is hearteningevidence that national health care reform may be possible" (KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, 6/16).

  • Alan Meyers: "I dearly wish that your optimism for our state's health care plan were well placed" because "[m]y fear ... is that any plan that does not eliminate the colossal waste of multiple competing private health insurers is doomed to failure," Meyers, associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and founding member of Physicians for a National Health Program, writes in a Times letter to the editor. He continues, "Costs can never be contained while supporting bloated private bureaucracies and for-profit medicine." He concludes, "Most physicians now support single-payer, national health insurance" (Meyers, New York Times, 6/19).
  • Benjamin Day: "You hail Massachusetts health reform as a promising model for the nation," but within the previous year, two key state officials "have publicly recognized that it will collapse if health care costs continue to rise by double digits, which they have," according to a Times letter to the editor by Day, executive director of MassCare: The Massachusetts Campaign for Single Payer Health Care. Day adds, "No effective cost-control legislation is in sight." Day concludes, "We need a single-payer health care system that will be there for our children, not another unsustainable experiment with obvious math problems that won't be there just a few years from now" (Day, New York Times, 6/19).
  • James Knickman: "The successes and shortfalls of" the Massachusetts system "are a valuable lesson for other states seeking" to make affordable coverage available to all residents, a Times letter to the editor by New York State Health Foundation President and CEO Knickman states. According to Knickman, "Massachusetts tried to fix one leg of the stool (coverage) without fixing the other two (access and cost)," which has resulted in many state residents having coverage but lacking access to "critical primary care services" and facing costs that "continue their upward spiral." He concludes that New York lawmakers and Gov. David Paterson (D) should "carefully scrutinize the Massachusetts experiment as they try to develop a comprehensive plan that equally addresses coverage, access and cost" (Knickman, New York Times, 6/19).
  • Jeffrey Harris: "Your report that 'many of the newly insured reported difficulty finding a primary care physician' rings especially true with the American College of Physicians" because "there are not enough primary care doctors ... and the problem is getting worse," ACP President Harris writes in a Times letter to the editor. He adds that the state effort to cover everyone illustrates why the next president and Congress should address the shortage of primary care physicians. He concludes, "There needs to be a plan to expand coverage, eliminate debt for physicians who choose primary care and establish physician payment methods that recognize the importance of primary care" (Harris, New York Times, 6/19).
  • Michael Cannon: The editorial "lauds" the Massachusetts law as "'off to a good start'" and "'heartening'" and says its higher-than-expected cost "'is a warning to other states to keep projections realistic,'" Cannon, director of health policy studies at Cato Institute, writes in a Times letter to the editor. He adds, "I'm sorry, but if states can low-ball the cost of reforms to get them enacted and still get praised by the paper of record, that's exactly what they'll do," concluding, "Some 'warning'" (Cannon, New York Times, 6/19).

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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