States health system popular
By Kay Lazar
Globe Staff / September 28, 2009
Public support for Massachusetts closely watched health insurance overhaul has slipped over the past year, a new poll indicates, but residents still support the path-breaking 2006 law by a 2-to-1 ratio.
Graphic Health questions Amid a severe recession that has led to cuts in state programs and unrelenting job losses, 59 percent of those surveyed said they favored the states multimillion-dollar insurance initiative, down from 69 percent a year ago. The poll, by the Harvard School of Public Health and The Boston Globe, found that opposition to the law stands at 28 percent, up slightly from 22 percent in a June 2008 survey.
Percolating throughout the poll findings is a gnawing concern over rising health care costs, suggesting that support could erode further if the state fails to slow the growth of medical spending.
With key features of the state law at the heart of the blistering national health care debate in Congress, architects and observers of the Massachusetts plan say the poll findings indicate that a national overhaul is not only possible, but politically viable.
Three years in operation, and with 97 percent of people covered, you have a majority of support, and that is a lesson for Washington, said Robert J. Blendon, a health policy professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and the polls co-director.
The poll found that 79 percent of those surveyed wanted the law to continue, though a majority said there should be some changes, with cost reductions cited as the single most important change that needs to be made.
Only 11 percent of state residents favored repealing the law, similar to last years finding.
In another question, residents were nearly evenly split over whether Massachusetts could afford to continue with the law as it stands: 43 percent said the state could not, and 40 percent said it could. [ so how do we pay at a national level? ]
Double-digit increases in premiums have become almost routine in Massachusetts, with the states major insurers saying they will raise rates about 10 percent next year. This trend began well before the overhaul passed, however, and when asked whether the law was having an impact on the cost of their own care, only about one-quarter of those surveyed said the law was hurting their own costs. [ Cost increases were not affected, one of the pillar of the Obamacare plan. This would then toss out any - ANY - CBO numbers as unrealistic, adding much more deficit spending than planned ]
The Massachusetts law requires nearly everyone to have health insurance or pay a penalty. All but the smallest companies must offer coverage to employees or pay a fine.
The law also created a new taxpayer-subsidized health insurance program for people who are not covered through an employer and earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. [ Mass already relies on the federal government to cover some costs - the fed will not have that option and medicare/medicaid is headed for bankruptcy (actually not possible, since it is the government that would have to default) ]