HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Mandatory Health Insurance in the Bay State?

From Wednesday's CDC's Public Health Law News:

Massachusetts may soon require health insurance for the state’s estimated half million uninsured residents. The state legislature is considering two separate plans. Under Gov. Mitt Romney’s plan, all residents would be required to buy insurance. Health insurance companies would be required to offer low-cost options, and people who earn less than $28,710 could receive state subsidies. The second plan, proposed in the House, would require employers to provide insurance or face a payroll tax. All persons who remained uninsured would face suspension of their driver’s licenses. The Massachusetts proposals are the first time any U.S. state legislature has seriously considered mandatory health insurance. “We have entered an age when there is more of a sense that there should be individual responsibility for your life and your family, that you owe it to your community to have coverage,” said Robert Blendon, a research professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. But not all residents are pleased with the prospect of being required to pay for health insurance. “Insurance is not my top priority right now. Day-to-day living is, like food,” said a Boston hair stylist. Other states have been hesitant to mandate insurance. “The fear with individual mandates is that you drive people out of state. Essentially it’s a tax, no matter how it gets worked out,” said Howard Berliner, of the New School for Management and Urban Policy in New York. But, said Berliner, “the individual mandate is not perfect, but I would much prefer in New York that we had that than just a growing number without insurance at all.” The Massachusetts bills are being considered by a legislative committee this week.

Read all about it in the Christian Science Monitor[tm]

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