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News of the Day ... In Perspective

04/15/2006

Gov. Romney signs Massachusetts universal coverage bill; vetoes employer “fair share contribution”

Flanked by leading Democrats in the legislature and Sen. Ted Kennedy, Republican Governor Mitt Romney signed the bill that claims to make Massachusetts the first state to assure universal health coverage. The Governor used his line-item veto to nix the $295 fee on employers of more than 10 workers who do not offer acceptable coverage.

The legislature, which is mostly made up of Democrats, will probably override the veto, which Speaker Salvatore DiMasi called “disingenuous.”

As the bill was crafted with compromises, “to change anything will disturb the delicate balance that made this law possible,” DiMasi said.

Note to employers from the Galen Institute: $295 is only the beginning. Continuation of existing mandated coverage and insistence on first-dollar coverage will quickly mean higher taxes and “assessments” to cover the subsidies (Health Policy Matters, Apr 13, 2006).

While the Heritage Foundation helped craft the FEHBP-like “Connector” to offer options and collect and distribute premiums, many conservative groups, including the Cato Institute, the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, and the Pacific Research Institute, have been highly critical.

Cato criticizes the principle of an individual mandate, which requires every employee and employer to sign, under oath, a Health Insurance Disclosure form. Cato believes that this opens the door to widespread regulation and political interference into individual medical decisions (Healthy Competition, Apr 13, 2006)

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