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Another look at Massachusetts health reform…

Attended a panel discussion today that included members of the Commonwealth Connector (the MA insurance exchange) as well as prominent health system analysts in the state’s reform effort. As many of the national proposals mimic those passed in Massachusetts, it is important to assess how the state’s experiment develops. The panel gave an update on the efforts in Year 3 of reform elaborating on five real facts:

1) 2.6% of the population remains uninsured after 2 years
2) Of the newly insured, 44% are in private market
3) 98.6% compliance of individual mandate (through taxpayer filing)
4) 69%-75% voter approval rating
5) $350 million in new net state costs

Biggest stresses by the panel:

-Implementation is more important in reform than the initial legislation.

-Higher reform costs are due to higher-than-expected enrollment. The program is NOT unsustainable, though currently faces challenges in revenue and expenditure growth (just as the rest of the nation is during the recession).

-The moral obligation has been addressed, the experiment has become precedent, and now that near-universal coverage has been achieved reform can enter Phase II: system-wide cost containment strategies.