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Massachusetts Health Reform Essay

1774 words - 8 pages

Massachusetts Health Reform

In 2006 the state of Massachusetts wanted to help its millions of citizens who were uninsured. The state legislators as well as the governor put into place a plan to help citizens get insurance. A law was passed to reform insurance in Massachusetts, which was known as Chapter 58 of the Acts of 2006 of the Massachusetts General Court; its long form title is An Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care.
The newly enacted law decreed that almost all of Massachusetts’ residents obtain a minimum level of insurance coverage. It also gave free health care insurance for Massachusetts residents that earned less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level. It also decreed that all employers that have more than ten full-time employees to give healthcare insurance to its employees. (Ayanian, J. 2012).
The reason the state of Massachusetts was determined to reform the state’s insurance policies started back in to 2004. There were multiple issues that drove it into legislation. Some of the issues were directly related to the insurance reform, some were not clearly related to it, but the most critical issue has always been the rising costs of healthcare insurance.
One issue facing state legislators was a six-year-old federal government waiver that directed how the state of Massachusetts dealt with its Medicaid program, and it was about to expire. If state legislators didn’t renew the waiver, or change it, then millions of citizens would lose Medicaid coverage since the state would be reverting to federal regulations. The state legislators felt this was unacceptable and knew that some type of health insurance reform was necessary.
Another issue was the use, or the misuse of hospital emergency rooms. This was a problem for many of the states since emergency rooms were legally obligated to treat people even if they couldn’t afford to be treated. The United States Congress passed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) in 1986. EMTALA requires hospitals and ambulance services to provide care to anyone needing emergency treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. The rising costs of unpaid emergency room expenditures were an issue that had to be addressed by state authorities. EMTALA required that all persons be treated, however, it did not include any legislation to reimburse payment that left hospital left with unpaid bills and growing expenses.
The state of Massachusetts had a tax set up to help pay for the expenses of the uninsured emergency room visits. The tax was known as Uncompensated Care Pool, and nicknamed free care pool. It also covered uninsured hospital admissions and community health centers. The free pool care was always underfunded and was raised annually. An MIT professor determined that the amount of money in the free pool care would be enough to fund reform legislation without needing to raise any more taxes or have additional funding....

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