MA vs. CA press event


Health and Political Reporters:

Here’s an announcement of a new Health Access Analysis that compare the pending health reform in California, AB x1 1, with the much discussed reform being implemented in Massachusetts. For more information, contact Anthony Wright, Health Access California, at 916-442-2308 (office), or 916-870-4782 (cell):

PENDING CALIFORNIA HEALTH REFORM WOULD GO WELL BEYOND
MASSACHUSETTS MEASURE
* Fundamentally Different in Financing, Cost Containment, and Other Concepts
* Broader Benefit in Providing Premium Relief, Movement in Insurance Market Reform
* California’s Proposals Learns Some of the Lessons from Massachusetts

A new comparative analysis shows that the pending California Health Security and Cost Reduction Act, AB x1 1 (Nunez), takes major steps in health reform far beyond the much-discussed Massachusetts reform of 2006.

“The pending health reform proposal would provide a broader benefit to California consumers than what was passed in Massachusetts. In addition, the California proposal has a much more stable financing structure of significant new dollars to improve the state’s health care system, and goes far beyond Massachusetts in trying to control health care costs,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, and a co-author of the report.

A full copy of the 8-page analysis is available at the Health Access website, at:
http://www.health-access.org/advocating/docs/2008CA-MAReformComparison%2001%2014%2008.pdf
The report lists “top ten” major differences between the California’s AB x1 1, and the health reform law, Chapter 58, passed in 2006. In contrast with Massachusetts, the California proposal includes:
1) New, Broader Financing, including a Tobacco Tax
2) A More Meaningful Employer Contribution
3) General Fund Protection
4) Significant Cost Containment
5) Subsidies up to and above 400% of the federal poverty level
6) Key Differences in the Individual Mandate, Affordability and Enforcement
7) A Transition to Guaranteed Issue
8) Medical Loss Ratios and Increased Insurer Oversight
9) Not Just a Connector, but a Negotiator
10) New and Improved Public Health Care Options

“While there are similarities, California’s pending proposal goes far beyond Massachusetts in numerous areas. California policymakers have learned some of the lessons of Massachusetts, and have crafted a more workable proposal that provides better and broader benefits.” said Wright. “At the same time, even with their more limited reform, Massachusetts has taken the major step of covering over half of its uninsured through public programs, and has created a framework to fill in their existing gaps.”

The Massachusetts law has shown both indicators of progress and issues that need to be addressed. More than 300,000 people in Massachusetts—roughly half the state’s uninsured—have signed up for public program coverage—a major achievement. The biggest critique is that this success in signing up patients quickly has led to higher-than-expected general fund costs. However, the Massachusetts plan never raised significant new revenue–it mostly redistributed existing state and federal funds, and relied on new funding from the general fund. In stark contrast, the California proposal would raise $15 billion in new funding, to be in a lock-box protected from the general fund, and vice versa.

“Massachusetts and California start from different places, and the plans are different enough, that they will end up having different results. Critique of the Massachusetts plan simply do not apply to California,” said Wright. “The proposal in California goes beyond even what consumer and community advocates wanted in

In fact, research into the history of the Massachusetts law shows the California’s proposal is much more like the ballot measure originally proposed by the consumer and community advocates, which included significant employer contributions, middle-income subsidies up to 400% FPL, and a tobacco tax–none of which made it in the final Massachusetts package, but is included in the pending California plan. The study goes into the details of the different iterations of these measures.

Again, a full copy of the 8-page analysis is available at the Health Access website, at:
http://www.health-access.org/advocating/docs/2008CA-MAReformComparison%2001%2014%2008.pdf

For more information on health reform, visit the Health Access website and blog, at http://www.health-access.org/blogger.html

To view other resources from the Year of Health Reform, visit our website,at:http://www.health-access.org/advocating/2007_healthdebate.html.

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