Senator-elect Scott Brown (R-MA) supports Massachusetts’ 2006 health care reform but opposes the near-identical Senate health care bill. During the campaign, Brown promised to provide the 41st vote for any national reform effort that required states like Massachusetts to finance reform elsewhere:
Thank you for the question, the health care plan is not good for Bay State Health Center here in Springfield, I worked on that health care bill, the problem with it is that we have 98% of our people insured and we have to look at pricing it’s getting out of control – but the Federal plan, taking a half trillion from Medicare, why would we go and subsidize the failure of other states – not only would we be paying for our plan, we’d be paying for everyone else – and look at the back door deals – I think people have lost confidence – and I think that we need to go back – I’d work on it – why do we need a one size fits all government approach we already did it.
But if Brown believes that Americans should not have to finance other states’ reform efforts, he should return the federal dollars that subsidize Massachusetts’ Medicaid expansion. After all, the state’s 2006 health care reform legislation included an expansion of Medicaid for children up to 300% of the federal poverty level and increased enrollment caps on existing Medicaid programs for adults. Massachusetts relied “very heavily on federal Medicaid funds to finance the plan, including $385 million in annual federal Medicaid payments that would have been lost in the absence of a plan to reduce the number of uninsured.”
Massachusetts used federal funds because, like all states, it lacked the economic capacity to invest in something as big as health care reform. Only the federal government can fix the systematic problems plaguing the health care system and improve the system in an equitable manner. Brown’s insistence that states can do reform on their own, is just a back door way for preserving the status quo that denies millions of Americans the kind of reforms that they’re financing in Massachusetts.