Rising health costs in Massachusetts suggest trouble for national reforms

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 13 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3742
  1. Jeanne Lenzer
  1. 1New York

    Reform of the healthcare payment system in Massachusetts ground to a halt last week as stakeholders clashed over how to control rising costs.

    In 2006 the state passed legislation to promote universal access to health care by creating various insurance schemes, including a plan that is partially subsidised by the state. Residents are required to buy one of the plans or pay a penalty of up to $1068 (£710; €850). By 2009 roughly two thirds, or 450 000, of the state’s 650 000 uninsured people had bought health insurance.

    Although the Massachusetts plan was supposed to reduce costs—in part by reducing emergency care and hospitalisations—costs continued to rise, and the state was forced to impose new taxes. In August 2008 the state governor, Deval Patrick, imposed $100m in fees on private …

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