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PSN on April 20, 2006 - 11:26am
Does it take two to tangle? Two New Jersey legislators are embarking on a six-month project to evaluate whether New Jersey can copy Massachusetts' recently adopted plan. Before they start hustling around the state, they ought to take a look at whether the Massachusetts plan is even going to work in Massachusetts and also think hard about whether it should be the starting point for negotiations.
As discussed previously here and on our website, the final version of the Massachusetts bill went too far with an individual mandate: forcing individuals to choose between low-quality (but still unaffordable) coverage or paying large fines to the government. Meanwhile, irresponsible large employers who continue to rely on public programs for employee health insurance would continue to get a virtual pass. One of the problems with such legislation is that it is unclear whether it is affordable for the government.
The version of the legislation passed by Massachusetts' House of Representatives was far superior legislation that included strict employer mandates for large employers -- companies big enough that they should have a benefits system worked out.
New Jersey is, of course, free to act on its own, but they should think twice about adopting a plan that is drawing skepticism from a multitude of independent analysts and economists -- especially when better options exist.
In New York, the legislature is considering a strong fair share health care bill. The legislation already has many cosponsors and is drawing support from a coalition of political organizations and responsible business leaders.
While the Massachusetts bill punishes individuals who can't afford health insurance, the New York bill holds responsible businesses that can afford coverage for employees but prefer to rely on public assistance programs, costing taxpayers millions. The contrast is simple.