In advance of the sixth anniversary of the Commonwealth's landmark health care reform law, Governor Deval Patrick today joined a diverse group of business, health care and community leaders to discuss why the law is working for Massachusetts residents. The group reconvened at historic Faneuil Hall, the location where the bill was signed into law on April 12, 2006.
"Health care reform is a values statement, and it is working in Massachusetts," said Governor Patrick. "As a result of our successful implementation of the 2006 law, 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."
"The Commonwealth is proud to have increased access to quality health care through the landmark reform of 2006," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "This demonstrates a significant bi-partisan achievement that supports the health and well-being for all residents in Massachusetts."
Today's event included key stakeholders from the worlds of business, health care, patient advocacy, labor and government. Leaders focused on how the passage and implementation of the law has made Massachusetts number one in the nation for coverage, encouraged more businesses to offer employees insurance and made the public healthier, all while adding about one percent to state spending and encouraging the market to embrace cost-savings initiatives.
Also on Wednesday, the Massachusetts Health Care Connector - the state's version of the type of "exchange" created by the federal Affordable Care Act -- announced that their Board will vote tomorrow on a plan to approve contracts with health insurers for 2013 -- a plan which will provide private health insurance to a record number of people in 2013, with an average per-person cost five percent lower than 2012 levels, and ten percent lower than 2011 levels.
Health care reform has been a success in Massachusetts because:
More people have access to quality care:
More people are covered by health insurance in the Commonwealth than anywhere else in the country: 98.1 percent of the total population is covered, including 99.8 percent of children. While the number of people without health care in America grew by millions from 2006 to 2010, more than 400,000 people in Massachusetts gained coverage over the same period.
More businesses are offering coverage:
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 than did before the law was signed by Governor Romney in April 2006, and the 77 percent of the state's businesses who offer their employees private insurance is well above the national average.
People are healthier:
People in the Commonwealth are healthier and getting better treatment thanks to health care reform. More than 90 percent of residents have a primary care physician and four out of five 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.
150,000 people stopped smoking after Massachusetts expanded coverage for smoking cessation. A recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research documented improvements in physical health, mental health, functional limitations and joint disorders as a result of the law. That study found the biggest health improvements in women, minorities and low-income residents.
Health Care Reform is cost-effective:
Massachusetts health care reform has proven to be cost effective. An independent analysis by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimated the law was responsible for about a one percent increase in net spending. Spending on the uncompensated care pool 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 two percent today.