The Massachusetts Way?

New York Times
September 6, 2008

To the Editor:

"The Massachusetts Way" (editorial, Aug. 30) says the state's health insurance program "looks more and more successful." That is decidedly premature.

The program did not change the structure of health finance in Massachusetts. It simply added government subsidies for the poor and required that anyone else who was uninsured purchase coverage or receive a tax penalty.

The cost of health care in Massachusetts is continuing to rise faster than the cost of living -- by 10 percent in just the past year. It will quickly outstrip government subsidies and the willingness of employers to provide decent coverage for their employees.

Leaning on government subsidies that can't be sustained, and requiring people to buy insurance they can't afford, is not a solution. Only a real change in the way we pay for health care can truly address our long-term problems.

Using a single public fund, an expanded Medicare for all, would provide the budget and planning tools to contain costs while generating enough savings to cover the uninsured and the underinsured.

Leonard Rodberg
New York, Aug. 30, 2008

The writer is a professor of urban studies at Queens College, CUNY, and research director of the New York Metro Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program.