Six years ago today, Mitt Romney signed his health care reform bill into law, proclaiming during an elaborately staged signing ceremony at Boston’s Faneuil Hall, “Of course the bill isn’t 100 percent of what anyone in this room wanted.” “But the differences between us are relatively small.”
Romney thanked the Bush administration for approving federal authorizations to fund the law and praised the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) for his “essential” work in shaping and advancing the bill through the state legislature. “Special thanks as well to the Heritage Foundation,” Romney continued. “Two of its leading scholars are the ones who helped design and craft what we now call the Connector, which is the centerpiece of the insurance reform portion.” Once Heritage’s Dr. Robert Emmet Moffit took the stage, he praised the law for establishing a new “patient centered” and “consumer-based” market where everyone can find affordable coverage:
MOFFIT (HERITAGE FOUNDATION): We’ve been honored by your request…to participate in giving our best advise and our technical assistance in designing a new and different kind of health insurance market. A market that is patient-centered and consumer-based, which will ease access to affordable coverage for thousands of Bay State citizens. This is new. It’s a new market, where individuals and families will be able to own and control their health insurance and take it with them to from job to job… Nothing like it has ever been attempted anywhere else in the United States. So Massachusetts has raised the bar for every state in the union. And that’s the applause you’ve given to your public officials here today is going to echo far beyond the hallow halls of this historic place.
Since its enactment, health insurance coverage among nonelderly adults in Massachusetts increased to near universal levels, nonelderly adults were more likely to have a usual place to go when they were sick, the state has reported drops in the shares of adults reporting a hospital stay and using the emergency department and seen gains in the affordability of care. More businesses are now offering health insurance and almosts all children can now see a doctor when they need to.
In fact, a new report released yesterday found that “for the second year in a row, the Massachusetts Health Connector’s Commonwealth Care program will provide private health insurance to eligible residents at a lower cost than the previous year.” The state will “save the state approximately $91 million with no benefit reductions or member co-pay increases” as a result of “contract renegotiations with providers and referral management,” said Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority Executive Director Glen Shor. “Several of the insurance carriers achieved significant success in persuading provider organizations to serve Commonwealth Care members at a lower cost.”
According to a WBUR poll from February, 62 percent of Massachusetts residents support Romney’s law, while just 33 percent oppose it.