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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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After discussion over a two-year period among Democratic and Republican politicians, with the support of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy--which was crucial--the landmark legislation was signed into law on April 12, 2006. Thus, Massachusetts became the first state to impose an individual mandate and set up a model to provide universal health care for all of its residents. President Obama modeled his ACA on the Romney plan, but included numerous revisions. But Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, does not support most of the new reforms.
HOW HAS IT WORKED?
The interesting question in 2012 is: How has the plan worked? When the ACA was passed by Congress, several benefits and restrictions were added. Among the many benefits, the popular ones include: There will no longer be discrimination for pre-existing conditions; adult children will have coverage on their parents' policy to age 26; and no longer will there be any lifetime or annual benefits caps on health insurance.
The Boston Globe (Sept. 26) reports a long list of benefits of the Massachusetts ACA, of which the following are noteworthy:
Massachusetts now has 98 percent of its population covered by the ACA; penalties are applied to those who do not elect coverage, with a tax that varies but is significantly less than the average cost of an emergency room visit.
There have been millions of dollars in savings from a substantial decrease in emergency room visits and more reliance on Health Exchanges.
The ACA now holds insurance companies liable for the 80/20 rule, which requires that families receive a rebate if the company fails to spend at least 80 percent of its premiums on health care services. Massachusetts residents will receive approximately $12 million in rebates in 2012.
This year the ACA has saved seniors more that
Health Exchanges will be set up beginning in 2014 to enroll 30 million of the 50 million people who now have no health care.
There will be new funding for Community Health Centers and the National Service Corps to improve the supply of primary care services.