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A 'Happy Anniversary' for MA Health Care

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April 10, 2008

Boston, MA - Massachusetts' healthcare reform effort is two years old today, and many are calling it a 'happy anniversary.' Since the landmark legislation was signed into law, more than 300,000 people who had been living without health insurance now are covered.

Thousands of others, including James Farioli, also are paying less for medical care. Farioli lost his job and was paying $400 a month for insurance. Since he signed up for the state's Commonwealth Care plan, however, he says his prescriptions are easier to afford.

"The medications I need, if I were to go to the pharmacy, would be at least $100 or more a month. My prescriptions with Commonwealth Care are only $1 to $3."

If there are challenges in the new system, they are that more residents signed up for subsidized care than had been anticipated, and that the costs also are higher than expected. That means the state is looking for ways to pay the bigger tab. One tax package currently in the legislature would add an extra dollar onto the tobacco tax, as well as closing some corporate tax loopholes, to pay for the cost of subsidized care.

Reverend Hurmon Hamilton, with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, has been a strong advocate for the law. He believes it is critical that the Bay State get these cost issues worked out, because the nation is watching.

"Because our plan exists, there is now a national model upon which a national agenda can be proposed, to provide health care coverage based on reasonable, credible, quality, accessible and affordable healthcare."

Governor Deval Patrick, House Speaker Sal DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray will host a celebration of Massachusetts' healthcare reform efforts today, at the State Capitol.

Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MA