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Massachusetts: Governor Mitt Romney Advocates His Health Care Reform Package

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney advocated his plan to promote affordable private medical insurance for residents of the state in the Boston Herald on June 21.

According to Romney, "My approach is based on several principles. First, private insurance is better, cheaper and more efficient than a government-run health-care scheme. Second, everyone has a responsibility to have health insurance; for those who cannot afford it, government will help, but only to the extent needed - not as an entitlement. Third, government has roles to play in helping all citizens become insured, from expanding consumer choice to creating incentives and tax benefits."

Romney cites no evidence that "private insurance is better, cheaper and more efficient" nor does he explain how government-run systems are a "scheme".

In a press release Romney's office states, "Approximately seven percent, or 460,000, of Bay State residents currently do not have health insurance. Of those, 168,000 have household incomes greater than 300 percent of the federal poverty level and should be able to purchase some form of health insurance. Many of these individuals are employed by small businesses that either do not offer health insurance, or they are part-time or contract workers not eligible for benefits through their job."

The press release does not discuss individuals who have been denied health insurance through "medical underwriting,� the process whereby insurers screen out applicants because of their health.

The release states: "Romney�s legislation will enable private insurers to offer a comprehensive health insurance product costing approximately $200 a month, compared to the current $350 average cost for small group products and over $500 average for non-group products. This will provide small businesses and individuals without insurance expanded choice at a lower cost.�

It adds, �The new insurance plans, developed by the private insurance companies, will be high quality and offer the following categories of coverage:

Romney�s bill establishes a new entity, the Commonwealth Care Exchange, to facilitate the pre-tax payment of premiums by working individuals, resulting in a 15 to 30 percent savings off their insurance bill depending on income. Using pre-tax dollars will enable working individuals to purchase the new plans for an effective cost of between $134 and $160 a month.

The new exchange will also enable, but not require, a participant�s company to make a financial contribution toward their healthcare costs.

To encourage participation in the exchange, Romney�s plan offers incentive payments to companies for registering. In addition, the state will provide decals to companies that offer health insurance to their employees so they can publicize their good corporate citizenship.

A nine-member board will govern the Commonwealth Care Exchange...."

"Another 36,000 unemployed individuals are also expected to take advantage of the new low-cost insurance products," it adds.

Romney's program also includes signing up those eligible for Medicaid who are not currently enrolled.

It would also include "Safety Net Care, which will convert the uncompensated care pool into an insurance plan for the 150,000 working poor and long-term unemployed, directing them to a specified network of clinics, community health centers and hospitals."

In his Boston Herald column, Romney states that his plan includes a "personal responsibility principle." Everyone who can get insurance or pay for his healthcare, should.


Posted by: Duncan Kinder on Jun 21, 05 | 10:10 am | Profile

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