The Massachusetts health reform law, now five years old, has the support of a high and rising percentage of people who are subject to it. The latest poll from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Boston Globe shows 63 percent of residents support is compared to just 21 percent opposed. The percentage in favor is up 10 points from a year and a half ago.
On the national scene Republicans would dearly love to portray the Massachusetts law, which provided the template for the national Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), as a dismal failure. That’s kind of hard to do when the people who’ve been living with it like it. One of the big criticisms leveled at the Massachusetts law is that it didn’t bring down costs. But the law’s primary aim was to reach near-universal health insurance coverage, and that’s been achieved. People in Massachusetts –unlike some of those outside the state– are able to separate out the issues of coverage and cost control.
Cost control is a big challenge –especially since one person’s cost control is another’s revenue loss- and yet Massachusetts is set to make progress on that issue, too. The newly issued Price Variation in Health Care Services report is a good example of the approach the state is taking in this area. It has lit a fire under providers but also health plans, which need to step up and prove they are adding value through medical cost management rather than just passing along provider pricing and market power.June 6, 2011