Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Saturday, October 22, 2016

As a number of Republican leaders across the nation continue to demonstrate their opposition to the Affordable Care Act by refusing to expand Medicaid in their states, one state in particular has seen tremendous progress by fully buying into the health care law.

A new report from Massachusetts’ Center for Health Information and Analysis reveals that between December 2013 and March 2014, “as key provisions” of Obamacare were implemented, the state-run Commonwealth Care’s public programs — first established under the state’s 2006 health care reform commonly known as “Romneycare” — and the “largest commercial payers” gained over 250,000 new members. As WBUR’s CommonHealth blog points out, “If that number holds, the percentage of Massachusetts residents who do not have coverage has dropped to less than 1 percent.”

The increased enrollments — reported just a month after a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that Romneycare was linked to decreased rates in mortality in the state — may be partially attributed to the Obama administration’s national campaign in the weeks following the ACA’s launch. Although much of the attention that Obamacare received in those weeks was negative, the reform nonetheless dominated politics and called Americans’ attention to health care, likely resulting in new enrollments in Massachusetts’ health insurance market.

Additionally, as CommonHealth notes, under Obamacare, a greater number of Massachusetts residents are newly eligible for free or subsidized coverage. Others — primarily low-income residents unable to pay the premiums under their employers’ plans, but prohibited from enrolling in state-subsidized insurance because their employers provided access to private health insurance — were now able to enroll in the state’s public programs or receive subsidized insurance, because the ACA struck down the restriction that had previously not allowed them to do so.

As of the end of March 2014, a total of 5.75 million residents were enrolled in either Massachusetts’ commercial health care insurance programs or the public program. This number excludes residents enrolled in Medicare or other federal programs, which means that the total number of insured residents is even higher.

Despite the good news, some in the state fear that the numbers will not hold up.

Lora Pellegrini, president of Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, tells CommonHealth that a majority of the new enrollees are not yet locked into a permanent plan, but rather a temporary coverage plan. This is because the state is still trying to figure out if these people qualify for free or subsidized care — an obstacle that first arose from the failure of Massachusetts’ Health Connector website, which is now being replaced by the federal site. When transitioning into a permanent plan, some of these new enrollees will learn that they do not qualify for free or even subsidized care. So how many will be willing to pay a premium without any help?

“The real challenge is going to be to move these folks from the temporary coverage into the permanent coverage where they belong, and then see if we’re able to retain these numbers,” Pellegrini says.

CHIA director Aron Boros agrees, and cautions that though the “numbers are a sign that we are moving in the right direction … there is still a lot of uncertainty about what they will ultimately mean to the total level of health insurance coverage” in the state.

Even so, the numbers are big news for Massachusetts and may just mark the first state in the U.S. able to boast a nearly zero percent rate of uninsured residents. Gail Wilensky, a senior fellow at Project Hope and former health care advisor to President George H.W. Bush, tells CommonHealth that if the “numbers are actually correct – that’s a big if – this is good.”

Screenshot via Massachusetts Health Connector

Want to keep up with the latest health care news across the nation? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • Allan Richardson

    But the Tea Party activists don’t WANT everybody to have health insurance! Even if that means denying it to THEMSELVES.

  • howa4x

    This will be the case as the ACA gets more traction in the states. Republicans will be hard pressed to keep their state’s residents from obtaining access to health care when in other states around them more and more are getting coverage. This is especially true in states that refused to accept the Medicaid expansion. Hospitals in those states are closing in rural areas further hurting economically depressed people. It is odd that a republican, Romney led the fight for universal coverage when his party is so hostile to it. It should show republicans that the ACA is not Kryptonite and that it actually can make a governor very popular to all it’s resident and not only to a group. Once people begin to see the success of the Mass. model the GOP’s war on healthcare will seem vindictive, shallow, uncaring, and mean spirited.

    • StefanaRapsondeu

      my classmate’s half-sister makes $73 an hour on the
      computer . She has been out of work for seven months but last month her check
      was $19134 just working on the computer for a few hours. navigate to this
      web-site C­a­s­h­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

  • charles king

    What? the hell is going on in America. Why? can’t a male or female of age to buy their insurance do not understand the savings from Obama Care. Who? are these people that are anti-bama Care. Just use some common sense folks and I am sure you will do the right thing for You And your family. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All. Mr. C. E. KING