Mass. Trumpets Success of Health Mandate

Under new law, state says 75% of uninsured are now covered
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2008 1:55 PM CDT
Deval Patrick smiles as he walks toward the podium at a town-hall-style community meeting at Hudson High School, in Hudson, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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(Newser) – About 75% of Massachusetts residents who had been uninsured now have health coverage, thanks to the state’s closely watched, near-universal health care mandate, says a new report from Gov. Deval Patrick. Nearly half of the 439,000 newly insured bought private insurance, rather than taxpayer-funded plans, the Boston Globe reports. And the number of patients using emergency rooms for routine treatments has fallen significantly.

The numbers bode well for the state in its tense negotiations with the federal government. The state has requested more than $11 billion over 3 years to keep its program working, but federal negotiators wanted statistics showing the program was working; this report would seem to do that. “It shows them that it's a good model for Massachusetts,” said the state’s secretary of health.