News Release

“Mandate Model” Healthcare: Massachusetts Highlights Problems

The Boston Globe reports: “Enrollment in the [Massachusetts] new subsidized health plan is growing so quickly that the state could face a funding gap as large as $147 million by the end of the fiscal year, according to a state projection.” The following analysts have been warning of the program’s problems:

STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER, MD
Associate professor of medicine at Harvard University, Woolhandler is co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and co-wrote the piece “Massachusetts’ Mistake.”

She said today: “The Massachusetts health reform is busting the budget and already beginning to fall apart. The state based its budget projections on low-ball estimates of how many people are uninsured in the state, and unrealistic assumptions about what coverage would cost. And only 4 percent of the 244,000 uninsured people in the state who don’t qualify for subsidized coverage have thus far signed up for insurance.

“Yet Clinton, Obama and Edwards would follow this same failed model. In fact, they’re all proposing recycled versions of the ‘mandate model’reform, first proposed by Richard Nixon. This model has been tried and failed — in Massachusetts in 1988 under Mike Dukakis, and subsequently in Washington State and Oregon. Now it’s failing again in Massachusetts. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. The Democratic front-runners’ health reform plans are just that.”
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ZENEI CORTEZ
Cortez is a registered nurse and a member of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee Council of Presidents.

She said today: “What the Massachusetts experience demonstrates is the yearning of Americans for reform — those who receive public subsidies for healthcare coverage leap at the opportunity. But it also shows the looming disaster of a plan that diverts public funds for the benefit of the private insurance industry. California, whichis blindly following the Massachusetts path, will be an even bigger train wreck, with a current $10 billion deficit, and millions, not hundreds of thousands, of uninsured residents who would qualify for subsidies under a very similar plan now before the state legislature.

“The health plans in both states share the same fundamental flaws: insurance companies can continue to deny care, charge whatever they want, and limit coverage. Both states rely on mandating individuals to buy insurance, with little protection for those who will face greater medical debt or self-rationing of needed care as a result of the limited, minimal plans they are forced to buy. Only a more comprehensive, humane system, such as a single-payer, expanded Medicare-for-all system, is genuinely universal, controls costs, and stops the insurance companies from denying care while draining away vital public resources.”

The California Nurses Association has produced a number of video segments focusing on several presidential candidates.

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For further background on the Massachusetts plan, see the Institute for Public Accuracy news release from April 5, 2006: “The Massachusetts Health Plan: Behind the Hype.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.