Massachusetts, Tennessee Health Plans Might Offer Ideas on U.S. Health Care System Overhaul
Congressional lawmakers who are crafting a plan to overhaul the U.S. health care system might be able to look to state health insurance programs in Massachusetts and Tennessee for ideas, the AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Health reform legislation modeled after Massachusetts' near-universal health insurance law "is likely to emerge" in Congress, "although details remain unsettled," the AP/Star Tribune reports. The plan also could include components of Tennessee's CoverTN program, which charges beneficiaries who smoke or are overweight higher premiums. Lawmakers in the Senate already have discussed a lifestyle tax funding mechanism, such as taxes on alcohol and sugary beverages. According to AP/Star Tribune, Massachusetts "chose to cover virtually everyone," while Tennessee "chose to get just a few more people bare-bones insurance at a budget price with limits on how much plans would pay for hospital stays."
Alan Weil of the National Academy for State Health Policy said, "The belief that we should all have health insurance coverage is broadly held," but "there are tremendous differences around the country in beliefs on how to achieve that goal." He added, "We learn from Massachusetts that a bold objective matters. If it can be sustained, that's terrific," and "[i]t would be nice if you had a southern state that had achieved universal coverage and did it in a different way, but we don't have that" (Johnson, AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 5/28).
American Public Media's "Marketplace" on Thursday reported on a study published in Health Affairs that looked at the Massachusetts program. The segment included comments from Jon Kingsdale, director of the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector Authority, and University of North Carolina Health Care System CEO Bill Roper (Babin, "Marketplace," American Public Media, 5/28).