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Massachusetts' Affordable Care Act: A Successful Model for National Health Care, by Bernard Mahoney.
Mitt Romney (right) stands with Ted Kennedy (center) and Timothy Murphy after signing into law 'Romneycare.'
Elise Amendola/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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MORE VIRGINIANS are finding themselves concerned about the future of health care now that it is playing a prominent role in both our presidential and senatorial elections. Although the economy is the major issue, health care is a close second. As a former resident of Massachusetts who has closely followed the development of the Affordable Care Act, I believe the Massachusetts model has significant merit for success on a national basis.
The ACA formulated by President Obama and a cadre of health professionals passed Congress in 2010 and was constitutionally confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2012. Because the ACA is quite complex and has not been disseminated in a simplified form, people have considerable anxiety about how it will affect them. As citizens have become more educated via community agencies, the Internet, and print media, their anxiety has diminished. The Boston Globe has provided extensive public service information about the early development of the Massachusetts ACA through the present.
In 2005, Gov. Mitt Romney realized the need for action in Massachusetts because of the spiraling cost of health care. Romney and his advisers posed the question: "Should adults with sufficient income be required to buy basic health insurance or pay a penalty if they refuse?" This focused on the theme of personal responsibility, a basic conservative idea.
A political adviser pointed out to Romney that a huge number of people in Massachusetts were going to the emergency room at costs that were four or five times the amount charged by a physician's office. Romney remarked that "this was wrong because they were passing along the costs of this care to others."
Gov. Romney came to accept that if younger, healthier people were brought into the system the cost of premiums would decrease. Later, Romney told reporters "there would be no more free riders where the individual says he is not going to pay even though I can afford it." Such action was against the conservative maxim not to look to government to take care of them if they can afford to take care of themselves.