Massachusetts Information

Posted on Monday, May 6, 2013

By the Editorial Board | The Boston Globe
One million hours. That’s how much time new Harvard research suggests psychiatrists spend each year obtaining insurance approval to hospitalize suicidal or mentally ill patients.

Posted on Monday, September 10, 2012

By Chelsea Conaboy | The Boston Globe
Architects of the pioneering 2006 Massachusetts health law, which required most residents to have insurance, expected it would reduce families’ medical debt. But the most recent data suggest the scope of medical debt has remained largely unchanged.

Posted on Monday, August 20, 2012

By Chelsea Conaboy | The Boston Globe
In an editorial published Tuesday in BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal, two public health professors and a best-selling author in the field of behavior economics explain why they think paying doctors more based on quality metrics is inherently problematic. Hospitals and doctors can easily change their reporting practices to improve their quality scores, they wrote. And financial incentives can undermine doctors’ intrinsic desire to help their patients.

Posted on Friday, July 13, 2012

By Milton Hirshberg, M.D. | Cap Cod Times, Letters
Economists at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have projected that all of medical care spending will grow at an annual average of 5.8 percent over the period 2010 to 2020. The growth is only slightly faster than that of the core system we had in the absence of the new legislation.

Posted on Friday, June 22, 2012

By Patricia Downs Berger, M.D. | Letters, Boston Globe
Universal access to affordable, high-quality medical care is what we all want for ourselves and our families, but it can only happen if we have a single-payer system that embodies this goal. Such a system means that there would be a single government entity that would pay health care bills instead of myriad private companies and government plans.

Posted on Wednesday, June 13, 2012

By Martha Bebinger | WBUR (Boston Public Radio)
We’re hearing from a lot of different groups lately about what’s wrong with health care and how to fix it. But what do patients think? To find out, WBUR asked Massachusetts residents who said they had a serious illness, medical condition, injury or disability requiring a lot of medical care, or spent at least one night in the hospital within the last year.

Posted on Friday, June 1, 2012

By David U. Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler | The Boston Globe
The House and Senate health care proposals would set imaginary limits for spending growth enforced by secret “improvement plans” and wrist slaps for hospitals that overcharge; establish tiered payment schemes to consign the poor and middle class to second-tier hospitals and doctors; push most residents of the Commonwealth into HMOs (oops, we forgot, now they’re called “accountable care organizations,” or ACOs); and wipe out small doctor’s offices by “bundling” their pay into ACO payments. Apparently the legislators’ theory is that forcing health care providers to consolidate cuts costs. Oligopoly saves money?

Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012

By GateHouse News Service | The Times and Courier (Clinton, Mass.)
Several senators made a concerted push on Tuesday to put Massachusetts on a track toward single-payer health care, and though their plan failed it generated a level of debate on the topic unseen in recent years.

Posted on Friday, December 16, 2011

By Andy Metzger | WWLP News, Channel 22 NBC
BOSTON - Five years after redrawing the lines in the national health care debate, Beacon Hill is looking at new reforms, closely studying payment system plans to lower costs and examining a government controlled single-payer model.

Posted on Wednesday, November 9, 2011

By Doug Trapp | amednews.com
Health system reforms in Massachusetts may have reduced its uninsured population to the smallest of any state, but the effort has not controlled growth in health care costs -- at least not yet.

Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Massachusetts plan has been successful only in nominally increasing the numbers of individuals insured, but at a trade-off of making almost everything else worse, including the insurance coverage itself. The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) used the Massachusetts model, and experience with the implementation to date indicates that we can expect the same or similar fundamental deficiencies, making unaffordable under-insurance the new national standard.

Posted on Thursday, October 6, 2011

By Trudy Lieberman | Columbia Journalism Review
Last week the Census Bureau released new numbers showing that 5.6 percent of the population in Massachusetts remained without health insurance coverage. That’s a 42 percent drop in the number of the state’s uninsured since the law took effect in 2006. A new study by the Cambridge Health Alliance, one of the state’s safety net providers, showed who was left out, putting a human face on those without insurance. The findings are illuminating given that the Bay State’s health law is the model for the national law, which takes full effect in 2014, and the Romney-Perry feud often flares up around the topic of health reform in the state.

Posted on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

By Chelsea Conaboy | The Boston Globe
A new study of Cambridge Health Alliance patients shows that many of the people who remain uninsured have jobs and don’t qualify for a state subsidy, but they cannot afford an insurance plan on their own or through their employers. For others, job loss and glitches in the enrollment process have caused them to lose coverage.

Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2011

By Carey Goldberg | CommonHealth, WBUR
The reasons why people lacked insurance varied, from having recently lost coverage through a job to fear of giving their personal data.

Posted on Thursday, August 18, 2011

Editorial | Cape Cod Times
Despite a recent setback at the federal appeals court level, health care reform still represents the nation's best solution to not only a broken health insurance system, but to our country's long-term deficit problems.

Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2011

By J. Wesley Boyd, MD, PhD and Rachel Nardin, MD | KevinMD.com blog, MedPage Today
Imagine you have severe depression and go to a Boston emergency room for treatment. You are told to follow up with a psychiatrist within two weeks. You have good health insurance, so this shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2011

By Scott O'Connell | The MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, Mass.)
Four members of a panel at Framingham State University last night gave their pitch for a single-payer health care system in the state, saying it would streamline administration, make care more widely available and potentially save billions of dollars.

Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2011

By Carey Goldberg and Rachel Zimmerman | WBUR
“Our examination found that paying providers on a global basis has not resulted in lower total medical expenses.” It’s just a short, no-frills sentence, but it amounts to a bombshell dropped on a central tenet of the Massachusetts governor’s plan for the next phase of health reform.

Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2011

From Mass-Care
WBUR's online health care blog, "CommonHealth," has a flashy headline article today titled "Massachusetts Attorney General Drops Health Reform Bombshell." What's the bombshell? That the state's proposal to control health care costs by moving people into accountable care organizations (ACOs) is unlikely to work, because patients who are currently covered by similar arrangements receive care that as just as expensive as everyone else.

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2011

U.S. News and World Report The percentage of personal bankruptcies caused by medical bills or personal illness has changed only slightly since Massachusetts began requiring people to buy health insurance in 2006, a new study finds.

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2011

By Jason Millman | The Hill
An individual mandate has done little to stem the rate of medical bankruptcies in Massachusetts, boding poorly for the federal healthcare reform law enacted almost a year ago, according to a new liberal study.

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2011

By Kay Lazar | The Boston Globe
The 2006 Massachusetts law that required nearly everyone to buy health insurance has not significantly staunched residents' pain from medical bankruptcies, according to a new study.

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2011

By Eryn Brown | Los Angeles Times
Studying medical bankruptcies in Massachusetts, whose recent healthcare reform was a model for national reform, researchers found that while new insurance rules increased the number of people who had coverage, those rules did not improve coverage -- leaving many still struggling with medical debt.

Posted on Friday, February 25, 2011

Susanne L. King | Letters | Boston Herald
In response to your editorial “Single-payer fan 'fesses up” (Feb. 23) that suggests a single-payer health care program in our state would bring long wait times, I would point to Canada, which delivers health outcomes as good as ours for half the price per person. The median wait time for cardiac surgery in Ontario is not months, but 16 days. And those patients are not left with bills that lead to medical bankruptcy. As a doctor, I agree with Terry Dougherty in his support for single-payer care.

Posted on Thursday, February 24, 2011

By Kyle Cheney | Boston Herald
A senior Patrick administration health care official said Friday that a single payer system may work more effectively and efficiently than Massachusetts’s existing insurance market, a high-profile endorsement that raised eyebrows at a legislative hearing.

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

Benjamin Day | Letters | The Boston Globe
On last Sunday’s editorial page, the Globe supports two courses toward controlling health care costs: It backs Governor Patrick’s efforts to change the health care industry’s fee-for-service system to “global payments," and it suggests that Vermont’s plan to implement a single-payer health care system should be supported as an experiment, or “a laboratory of democracy."

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011

Simeon Kimmel | Letters | The Boston Globe
I applaud The Globe for showcasing Vermont’s single-payer “laboratory’’ in its Jan. 2 editorial “Vermont: Creating a singular health system.’’ As a third-year medical student at Cambridge Health Alliance, I’ve found that it doesn’t take long to see that the current system is insufficient.

Posted on Tuesday, November 2, 2010

By Susanne King, MD | The Berkshire Eagle
On Nov. 2, you will be able to vote for "single-payer" health care if you live in the 2nd or 4th districts of Berkshire County. This referendum is non-binding, but will send a strong message to our legislators and governor.

Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2010

By Edward B. Colby | Dedham (Mass.) Transcript
Leo Stolbach says he’s working to advance a single-payer health insurance system for Massachusetts because he sees what’s happening to patients now.

Posted on Wednesday, October 13, 2010

By David Pepose | Berkshire Eagle
Voters in the 2nd and 4th Districts will test the waters for single-payer health care in a ballot question in November’s elections.

Posted on Monday, March 29, 2010

By Benjamin Day and Peter Hiam | The Boston Globe
NOW THAT Congress has passed a national health reform bill that will not fully kick in until 2014, attention will focus again on this state’s effort to make a success of near-universal coverage.

Posted on Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It is difficult to reduce this complex 211 page report on the very high level of spending by Massachusetts' hospitals into a few paragraphs, but the title and subtitle alone deliver the dominant messages. For those who would like more insight without reading the full report, there is an excellent 30 page summary at the beginning the report.

Posted on Wednesday, March 3, 2010

By Susanne King | The Berkshire Eagle
Aetna, Cigna, Humana, United Health, and Wellpoint scored record profits totaling $12.2 billion. In 2008, Ron Williams, CEO of Aetna, received over $24 million in compensation, about $450,000 per week. His weekly compensation would be enough to pay the yearly salary of three family doctors, whose median income in the United States is $159,000 per year.

Posted on Wednesday, February 24, 2010

From Ben Day, Executive Director, Mass-Care
Dear Single Payer Supporters - At 10AM [on Monday], the White House released the outlines of President Obama's health reform proposal "incorporating and improving on ideas from the House and the Senate, along with some new ones," in anticipation of a summit this Thursday with Congressional Republicans.

Posted on Tuesday, February 9, 2010

By Russell Mokhiber | Single Payer Action
Single payer activists David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler are moving to New York City. In the fall of 2010, they will become full professors at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health at Hunter College.

Posted on Wednesday, January 27, 2010

By Marcia Angell, MD | Huffington Post
Well, that was a game-changer! But don't misinterpret it (and don't blame Martha Coakley's lackluster campaign). Scott Brown's victory was not about the principles of either party, nor was it about the size of government, nor even about health reform, except indirectly. It was about disillusionment and anger with government.

Posted on Monday, December 7, 2009

By Sylvia Thompson and Iyah Romm | The Huffington Post
If Massachusetts is going to be a model for reform, we must consider both the successes and failures of the past three years. It has become painfully obvious both in our studies and clinical practice that coverage does not equal care. Despite boasting the strongest primary care workforce in the country, the newly-insured in Massachusetts report waiting months for appointments. Meanwhile, the Connector has added 4.5 percent overhead to the already crushing administrative costs of our private insurance companies.

Posted on Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Massachusetts Joint Comittee on Public Health
Thank you, Madame Chair and Members of the Committee for the opportunity to testify this morning. My name is Iyah Romm, and I am a medical student at Boston University School of Medicine. I also serve as a national leader of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), where I am the New England Regional Director and Co-Chair of the Health Care for All Steering Committee.