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CAHI Urges Gov. Romney: Don't Sign It! Massachusetts Health Plan Is No Model for Reform

Armen Hareyan's picture

Massachusetts Health Insurance Reform

On Tuesday, April 4, the Massachusetts House and Senate Conference Committee reached a compromise on a first-of-its-kind legislation that requires everyone in the state to have health insurance or pay a fine. Governor Mitt Romney (R) is expected to sign the legislation into law Wednesday morning.

The health insurance plan includes new taxes on businesses that don't provide insurance, a requirement that everyone purchase health insurance or be penalized and a chilling new invasion into personal privacy.

The legislation includes new Medicaid expansions and the "Connector," modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, a per-person business "assessment" (read: tax) on firms not offering insurance. Most problematic, the bill provides new government authority to extensively track each person's private health insurance and medical data.

"This program is being sold by the governor as a 'free market' proposal," stated JP Wieske, State Affairs Director for the Council for Affordable Health Insurance. "But this plan is a roadmap for a single-payer system that will be a disaster for Massachusetts taxpayers and patients."

The legislation gives the government broad new invasion-of- privacy rights:

Individuals must provide a "Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure" forms - signed under oath, and the can be investigated by the insurance commissioner. The bill also includes other extensive data reporting requirements. Business owners must also sign the Disclosure.

The "Connector" - a non-state entity - and other information-gathering agencies can request any information on the business and its employees they deem necessary. Employers not providing insurance not only pay a $295 tax, but once their employees' and dependents state-paid health care costs exceed $50,000, employers are responsible for between 10 and 100 percent of the bill.

The bill adds individuals to the small group market - substantially increasing small group costs and making insurance more expensive. It also:

  • Adds an additional layer of bureaucracy in the "Connector"

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  • Limits plan design options for the poor

  • Adds numerous reporting requirements for health care providers

  • Increases taxes for private payers to cover uncompensated care

The health insurance proposal includes:

Requirements for "quality of care" initiatives - limiting the ability of doctors and hospitals to provide the care they believe is necessary

New data collection - including keeping records of individual and business health insurance status

Requirements that the government extensively collect hospital billing data and match them with their families, employer relationships, and to keep track of their billing - on an individual basis.

"After years of debate over health care reform, is this the best Massachusetts can do!?" asked Dr. Merrill Matthews, Director of CAHI. "Employers, insurers and even the White House are leading the way to a consumer driven health care system that expands coverage, increases choices and reduces costs and the uninsured. The Massachusetts plan goes in precisely the opposite direction. It's not a model for reform, but a costly, invasive boondoggle that should be avoided at all costs. CAHI urges Governor Romney not to sign this bad proposal into law"

Founded in 1992, CAHI is a non-profit research and advocacy association whose mission is to develop and promote free market solutions to America's health care challenges. CAHI's membership includes health insurance companies (active in the individual, small group, HSA and senior markets), small businesses, physicians, actuaries and insurance brokers.