Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Doctors Give Massachussetts Health Care Reform a Failing Grade

Physicians for a National Health Care Program (PNHCP) released an An Open Letter to the Nation from Massachusetts Physicians today, explaining the shortcomings of the Massachussets model of healthcare reform.
“It is urgent that the rest of the country know that Massachusetts is a living laboratory for the health care reforms being pushed in California and by the Obama/Clinton/Edwards campaigns. Right now the Gov. Romney/Massachusetts’ plan gets a failing grade on the ground,” said Dr.Rachel Nardin, Assistant Professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.
Apparently, mandating residents to enroll in private health care plans benefits insurance companies more than it benefits the people of the commonwealth. Mitt Romney push through something for big business? Go figure.
Starting January 1, 2008 Massachusetts residents face fines if they cannot offer proof of insurance. Yet as of December 1, 2007 only 37% of the 657,000 uninsured had gained coverage under the new program. These individuals often feel well served by the reform in that they now have health insurance. However, 79% of these newly insured individuals are very poor people enrolled in Medicaid or similar free plans. Virtually all of them were previously eligible for completely free care funded by the state, but face co-payments under the new plan. In effect, public funds for care of the poor that previously flowed directly to hospitals and clinics now flow through insurers with their higher administrative costs.
Oh, the joys of privatization. Thanks, Mitt. Hopefully, the federal government will learn from the Massachussetts model and enact real health care reform. I can't say that I am very hopeful though, considering the Dems also like big business, especially when giving perks to the insurance companies seems more like populist reforms than corporate handouts.

The United States should have universal health care. Politicians talk about this great nation, but how embarrassing to be the wealthiest country in the world without a national health care system. As the doctors of PNHCP said, "The lesson from Massachusetts is that we still need real health care reform: single payer, non-profit national health insurance." Hopefully, we will get just what we need.

In the mean time, I am uninsured, living in California, hoping I stay healthy and wondering what overpriced ineffective insurance policy I'll be required to purchase when I move back to Massachusetts.

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