pioneer institute


Radio Boston Digs Into Health Reform As Public Says ‘Let’s Give It A Shot’

Radio Boston performed a courageous civic service yesterday: It ventured into the numerical weeds of health reform — discussing the new Massachusetts public opinion poll that Martha Bebinger covered here on CommonHealth — and it actually turned a discussion of health policy into interesting radio.

The segment included pollster and Harvard professor Bob Blendon; Joshua Archambault, director of health care policy at the Pioneer Institute; and Brian Rosman, director of research at Health Care For All. It’s a meaty debate that carefully avoids descending into what Brian calls “Wonkland,” and worth a listen. Already, it prompted this striking comment to host Meghna Chakrabarti from “KatyinQuincy” on Radio Boston’s Webpage:

Speak it, Meghna!

We have an HSA insurance account, and see the cost of health care in print- we need to pay most of it out of pocket.

$465 for a 5 minut office visit to reduce my daughter’s arm…

$375 for an infected fingernail…

$1075 for an ER visit that the doc said “she would make if SHE were my child’s mother.” (My baby had a COLD.

I don’t think the DOCS know how much these routine procedures cost.

Oh, and it’s not possible to negotiate a cash cost.

HELP! The people of Massachusetts are drowning in routine health care costs.

(I just have become a much better provider at home. We rarely see the doctor anymore).

The segment also included a call-in from a Newburyport man who was recently in a bike accident, and was so shocked and appalled by the cost of his ambulance and emergency room care — both the total cost and his out-of-pocket costs — that next time, he vowed, he would say “Screw the ambulance” and the health care system altogether. “I’ll recover” on my own.

Watching Maine, The Other Big New England Health Insurance Reform Experiment

The momentous move toward a single-payer system in Vermont gets most of the attention, but let us not forget another major experiment in health insurance reform now under way in New England: Maine’s move in the opposite direction, toward a looser health insurance market.

Thanks to Josh Archambault, director of health care policy at the Pioneer Institute, a conservative think tank, for pointing out today’s update on Maine’s moves in the Morning Sentinel here. From that report, it sounds like people still disagree on the effects of the path Maine has chosen, but all agree that the status quo could not stand. (Hmmm. Sounds a lot like Massachusetts.)

Here’s how MaineToday Media state house writer Susan M. Cover sums up the Maine changes:

Dr. Wendy Wolf, chief executive officer of the Maine Health Access Foundation, laid the groundwork for the forum by talking about L.D. 1333, a law passed with mostly Republican support in May.

“This law represents one of the most significant changes in health insurance since the 1990s,” Wolf said.

The law takes steps to ease regulations in the health insurance system. It allows Mainers to buy insurance across state lines, gives insurance companies flexibility in setting rates for people based on age, whether they smoke, and where they live. It also creates a “high risk pool” for people who use a lot of health care services.

To pay for those in the pool, everyone in the state with private coverage will pay as much as a $4 monthly assessment, which could go as high as $6. The $4 assessment would generate $25 million a year to support the reinsurance pool, said Eric Cioppa, acting superintendent of the state Bureau of Insurance. Continue reading