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Matt Singer on January 22, 2007 - 3:18pm
“Affordable”? Health Care Plan Could Cost Some Bay Staters as Much as a Third of Their Income New York, NY ”“ The Massachusetts Health Care Plan, negotiated by former Governor Mitt Romney and the legislature, is proving to be expensive, just as critics warned, with the lowest cost plan costing state residents as much as $9,560 per year in out-of-pocket expenses if they suffer a serious illness. While the Mass plan has been pointed to as a model for other states, these new numbers make clear that the Romney model of individual mandates is not a reasonable approach. These numbers were presented by a subcommittee of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connecter board, the panel tasked with implementing the health care plan. "Having an individual mandate impose such a cost, which could be as much as a third of a person's income under the plan, is unacceptable," said Adam Thompson, a health care policy specialist with the Progressive States Network The lowest cost plan would carry an average monthly premium of $380 and a deductible of $2,000 per year with a total annual limit on out-of-pocket costs of $5,000. These numbers apply to any individual who earns more than $29,400 per year ”“ the cutoff for state subsidies. “We’re talking about a plan that will take almost 1/6 of people’s income in premiums alone. People could pay as much as 1/3 of their income into medical expenses. That simply is not affordable,”? said Thompson. “To penalize individuals who reject this expensive proposal by levying $1,000 fines borders on cruel.”? The Massachusetts law has been hailed as a national model, but Thompson warned that states looking at copying Massachusetts’ plan should look carefully at the price tag to consumers before moving forward. “Telling someone who earns $30,000 a year that one in three dollars they earn will have to go to health care is not just bad policy, it is likely to anger voters,”? warned Thompson. “States should look elsewhere for their health care models. And it may be time for Massachusetts to prepare for emergency surgery on this health care plan.”? The Progressive States Network and numerous other organizations criticized Governor Romney’s early cost estimates as unrealistic. The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connecter board will reach a decision today on the proposed plan. Adam Thompson is a health care policy specialist with the Progressive States Network. Prior to joining the Network, he worked for Governor John Baldacci of Maine on the enactment and implementation of Dirigo Health Reform. He is available for comment on health care reform in Massachusetts and across the country. The Progressive States Network was founded in 2005 to drive public policy debates and change the political landscape in the United States by focusing on attainable and progressive state level actions. It recently changed its name from the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN).