Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why Massachusetts Needs Single Payer...In One Chart

Last week, Boston Magazine published a list of the biggest lobbying groups on Beacon Hill.

As you can see, the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, with over $1 million in lobbying expenditures, dwarfs the competition. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts clocks in at #6, Tufts Associated Health Maintenance Organization at #8, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care at #12.

Hospitals also dominate the list: Massachusetts Hospital Association at #2, Partners HealthCare System at #4, and Steward Health Care at #9. MAXIMUS (#10) is a huge contractor, especially in the health care and human services sector.

Massachusetts, in case you didn't know, has the nation's highest health insurance premiums for private, employer-sponsored plans.

All of that money spent on lobbying the governor and the legislature is not being spent on health care. A single payer system eliminates such waste on the part of private insurers (as well as the waste from marketing) and also provides better bargaining power with private hospitals. It would also treat health care as a human right, guaranteeing everyone the utmost quality of care that can be provided.

The issue of single payer has come up in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race. Former head of CMS Don Berwick is the only candidate actively calling for a single payer system. State Treasurer Steve Grossman and Juliette Kayyem, former national security adviser to Obama at DHS, both dance around the issue, saying that they will "explore" it but do nothing to push for it. Attorney General Martha Coakley's response is always "not at this time." And former CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield Joe Avellone is always a firm no.

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