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One Year Checkup:  The Prognosis of Healthcare Reform in Massachusetts

CONTACT: Jane Lane
617-338-2726

BOSTON, May 14, 2007 - At a top-level summit Monday, May 14th at the Kennedy Library, Governor Deval Patrick will assess progress in implementing the landmark healthcare reform legislation signed into law just over one year ago. Top administration and elected officials, experts, advocates and representatives from Massachusetts businesses will join Patrick in taking stock of the state’s success as well as evaluating future challenges in providing access to healthcare coverage for all citizens of the state.

Along with Patrick, key speakers include House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, a chief architect of health reform legislation, and Senate President Therese Murray, who played a key role as the former Senate Chairman of Ways and Means, in creating the healthcare reform legislation.

The summit is sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum and the Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute. The event will include a panel presentation on the future challenges for healthcare reform. Panelists include:

  • Leslie Kirwan, Secretary of Administration and Finance
  • Dr. Judy Ann Bigby, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services
  • Jon Kingsdale, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector
  • Rev. Hurmon Hamilton, President of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization
  • Richard Lord, President and CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts

Many states are watching Massachusetts closely as they begin to develop their own reform proposals. Representatives from California, Vermont and New York will speak about initiatives in their states and how they were influenced by Massachusetts. 

Passage of healthcare reform represented an important time in the state’s history,” said Philip W. Johnston, chairman of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum. “It was an extraordinarily complicated process which required lengthy debate. Even with passage of the law, this momentous change in the delivery of healthcare will require continued vigilance and commitment on the part of the Legislature, healthcare providers, advocates, business and consumers.”

Since the legislation took effect, the number of Massachusetts residents covered by MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, and Commonwealth Care, a new, publicly subsidized insurance program for low-income residents, increased by 122,000, almost one-third of the 372,000 residents who were uninsured prior to passage of the legislation.

“The expansion of public and publicly-subsidized insurance coverage has been one of the big early stories of health care reform,” said Robert Seifert, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute. “Sustaining that coverage – and the funding that supports it – will be equally important as we move ahead.”

A research paper analyzing the early stages of the healthcare reform debate and implementation will be made available at the summit. 

“Right now, the biggest lesson other states can take from Massachusetts is the notion of shared responsibility between individuals, business, and government,” said Michael Doonan, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum at Brandeis University. “The Massachusetts plan was bipartisan, builds off the base of the existing system, and asks a little more of everyone in the effort to make health insurance available to all residents of the state.”  

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation
Since its inception in 2001, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation (www.bcbsmafoundation.org) has awarded grants of more than $20 million to spark innovation and strengthen services for uninsured and low-income individuals and families in Massachusetts. The Foundation is governed by it own 17-member Board of Directors and operates separately from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. The Foundation has an endowment of over $100 million making it one of the largest health philanthropies in New England.

The Massachusetts Health Policy Forum
The Massachusetts Health Policy Forum is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the health care system in the Common- wealth by convening forums and presenting the highest quality research to legislators, stakeholders and the public.  The Forum was created in 1998 to bring public and private health care leaders together to engage in focused discussion on critical health policy challenges facing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Forum is base at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.  Modeled after the successful National Health Policy Forum of George Washington University, the Massachusetts Forum conducts approximately four forums per year for an invited audience of health care leaders and legislators.

The Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute
The Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute (www.massmedicaid.org) was created in 2003 as an independent and nonpartisan source for information and analysis about the Massachusetts Medicaid program, “MassHealth.” Through its publications and events, MMPI promotes broader understanding of MassHealth and its connections with other health care programs, and informs rigorous and thoughtful public discussion of MassHealth’s successes and challenges. MMPI is governed by a 15-member board of directors and collaborates with a wide spectrum of policy makers, researchers, providers, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders.