Massachusetts leads in health coverage due to 'Romneycare'

By Mary Mosquera
12:46 PM
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Thanks to former governor Mitt Romney, healthcare reform is working in Massachusetts. In fact, the state is number one in the nation for coverage because of the pivotal individual mandate he promoted.

April 12 is the six-year anniversary of Romney’s signing into law the health reform model that President Barack Obama adopted for the nation in 2010 to expand health coverage and access to care to millions of Americans.

[See also: Santorum exits, poll puts Obama ahead of Romney on healthcare.]

For Massachusetts, “more people are covered; more businesses are offering insurance; we have healthier residents; and we’ve done it all in a cost-effective and responsible manner,” said Deval Patrick, the current Democratic Massachusetts governor, in an anniversary, albeit political, celebration of the health reform law.

Implementation of the law enacted in 2006 has been a bi-partisan achievement. It has added about 1 percent to state spending, according to a Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation analysis that Patrick cited and has encouraged the healthcare market to support cost-savings initiatives.

Romney, the expected Republican presidential nominee, has said that if elected he would repeal the law if the Supreme Court doesn’t strike it first. According to his Web site, Romney has said that on his first day in office he would issue an executive order that paves the way for the federal government to issue waivers to all 50 states. Next, he would work with Congress to repeal the full legislation, a feat that might be difficult based on recent congressional performance.

Romney has said that states should decide how to design healthcare improvements and not the federal government.

According to Patrick’s office, the board of the Massachusetts Health Care Connector, the state’s health insurance exchange, also will vote April 12 on a plan to approve contracts with health insurers for 2013. The plan is designed to provide private health insurance to a record number of individuals in 2013, with an average per-person cost 5 percent lower than 2012 levels and 10 percent lower than in 2011.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-supported organization, has also determined that spending on uncompensated care is down since the law passed. Growth in health insurance premiums throughout the market has slowed from an average of about 16 percent two years ago to less than 2 percent currently.

[Political Malpractice: They all chant 'ACA repeal' but what could a GOP president actually do?]

More people are covered by health insurance in Massachusetts — 98.1 percent of the total population and 99.8 percent of children — than anywhere else in the country.

While the number of Americans without health care increased by millions from 2006 to 2010, more than 400,000 people in Massachusetts gained coverage over the same period.

Massachusetts health care reform, like the federal Affordable Care Act, takes a hybrid approach to increasing coverage, encouraging people to get health insurance in the private market and subsidizing the cost for those who can’t afford it. More businesses in Massachusetts offer their employees private health care today — 77 percent, or well above the national average.

More than 90 percent of residents have a primary care physician and 4 out of 5 individuals have seen their doctor in the last 12 months. Preventative care has also increased, with more people receiving cancer screenings and more women receiving pre-natal care, while visits to emergency rooms have decreased.

For more of our primaries coverage, visit Political Malpractice: Healthcare in the 2012 Election.