Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Senate Republican Caucus Press Release on Healthcare

Today the Senate Republican Caucus distributed the following press release regarding today’s Senate debate of a bill requiring the state to conform with insurance provisions contained in the federal Affordable Care Act:

Senate Republican Caucus Fights to Keep Massachusetts Healthcare System Affordable

Caucus Offers Several Amendments to ACA Bill to Protect and Fortify the State’s Healthcare System

Boston- With the Massachusetts State Senate set to debate a bill requiring the Commonwealth to move forward in the process to conform with insurance provisions mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Senate Republican Caucus has filed several key amendments to keep rising healthcare costs down, to study the cost of new federal mandates and taxes, and prevent the federal act from penalizing Massachusetts residents with costly new insurance measures.

            “Our state government has worked diligently to control costs, increase access to coverage, and create a model for others to follow when it comes to healthcare,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr.  “We shouldn’t now be penalized and punished by a federal law that takes away critical components of that model, and in doing so, causes undue costs for consumers and economic penalties for employers.”

            Among the amendments that Senator Tarr, Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) and Ranking Senate Ways and Means Committee member Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) are seeking to secure include measures to:

  • Require reporting of the cost to comply with ACA mandates by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector, and the Center for Health Information Analysis, and the Health Policy Commission; 

  • Require reporting of the impacts associated with the medical device tax imposed by the act on Massachusetts manufacturers by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, and the Department of Revenue; 

  • Eliminate the mandate that all insurance policies must have prescription drug coverage, which increases premiums and limits choice; 

  • Increase of the membership of the Health Insurance Connector to include a consumer organization, and three who represent employers in various geographical locations and employee size; 

  • Increase the number of Association Health plan cooperatives to allow small businesses to purchase health insurance as a group; and 

  • Strengthen Federal Waiver efforts to prevent Massachusetts from losing tools to control insurance costs such as rating factors and annual rate settings.
           Rather than the state summarily proceeding with the elimination of cost reducing health insurance rating factors that provide both small and large businesses with the financial flexibility to provide affordable healthcare to their employees, Senate Republicans want the state to go beyond the January 2016 phase-in extension provided by the federal government to seek an outright waiver of many of the costly provisions.

“Ensuring every Massachusetts citizen continues to have access to affordable health care coverage is paramount to strengthening our Commonwealth and growing our economy,” said Senator Hedlund.  “We need to make sure the progress we have made in creating a model for the rest of the nation continues to evolve rather than take a backseat to federal regulations that weaken our goal of access and affordability.”

“Massachusetts has become the model for the entire nation on quality health care reform,” said Senator Ross. “It is a shame that the federal government is now implementing new regulations that will effectively detract from the great strides that the Commonwealth has made in making affordable health care available. The federal government should refrain from interfering with a state’s working model, particularly one that has shown such success.”

“The federal Affordable Care Act should strengthen our model for healthcare, not weaken it.  We need to take decisive action to push back against federal measures that will undermine our state’s chances for success in controlling costs and increasing access,” said Senator Tarr.