For Immediate Release - December 13, 2010

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION CELEBRATES 98% HEALTH CARE COVERAGE IN MASSACHUSETTS

Continued success of health care reform shows Commonwealth still leads the nation in coverage

BOSTON - Monday, December 13, 2010 - The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced that over 98 percent of Massachusetts residents have health insurance, demonstrating the ongoing success of health care reform in the Commonwealth. According to the state's annual household survey on health insurance, released by the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, only 1.9 percent of state residents remain uninsured and nearly every major demographic group is within a few percentage points of universal coverage.

"Health care reform is working in Massachusetts," said Governor Deval Patrick. "Just as we lead the Nation on coverage, we will lead the Nation to new ways to control costs for small businesses and working families."

The report, Health Insurance Coverage in Massachusetts: Results from the 2008 - 2010 Massachusetts Health Insurance Surveys, show that only about 120,000 people in Massachusetts did not have coverage at the time of the survey, conducted between March and June 2010. The study, mandated by the Legislature as part of Chapter 58 health care reform law and conducted annually, shows that Massachusetts has continued to keep its uninsured rates steady at the lowest rate in the country.

"In just a few years, Massachusetts' achievements in health care reform have been nothing short of extraordinary," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. "With employers, government and individuals all sharing the responsibility of reform, we continue to have the highest insurance rate in the nation. Our success here demonstrates the impact that meaningful reform can have on improving access to quality care."

David Morales, Commissioner of the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy said, "In order to sustain the tremendous gains that Massachusetts has made in terms of access to care, the Division's efforts are now focused on understanding and containing the rising costs of health care while also maintaining the high quality of care."

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director of Health Care For All, added, "Just five years ago, Massachusetts took the bold step of extending health care to every person in the Commonwealth. Because of this historic law, families who once struggled between paying for food and rent or getting the care they need are no longer forced to choose. We are thrilled at the extraordinary finding that 99.8 percent of our children have coverage. HCFA has been leading a statewide effort to find and enroll uninsured kids, and these statistics show the tremendous progress we have made. The success of our reform is a victory for all of Massachusetts."

"That health coverage in Massachusetts continues to grow even with a difficult national economic climate is extraordinary, reflecting an unwavering commitment to reform by Governor Patrick, the Legislature and our entire health care and business communities," said Glen Shor, Executive Director of the state's Health Connector. "Health care reform has changed countless lives for the better. We now need to sustain it by tackling costs."

"Closing the gap in access to quality health care is an historic achievement in Massachusetts, and one that needs to be permanent," said Alan G. Macdonald, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable. "Massachusetts is now in a position to focus on health care capacity and cost issues, which we are as well prepared and determined to do as any other state in the nation."

In addition to maintaining this historic level of insurance coverage, the Patrick-Murray Administration is committed to lowering rising health care costs and transitioning to a health care system that prioritizes integrated, patient-centered and cost effective care. Earlier this year, Governor Patrick proposed a series of initiatives that led to lower premiums for small businesses and were later included in the small business health care cost bill, Chapter 288. Under the Governor's leadership, Secretary Bigby convened a sub-committee of the Health Care Quality and Cost Council to work on resolving the key issues of payment reform in order to inform legislation next year.

The study, conducted by the independent Urban Institute on behalf of the state's Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, indicates that insurance coverage is very strong for Massachusetts residents at all income levels, ranging from 96 percent for those with family income under 300 percent of the federal poverty level to over 99 percent of those with income above 500 percent of the federal poverty level.

The survey results also show that nearly all elderly adults (99 percent) and children (99 percent) are insured, as are 97 percent of non-elderly adults ages 19 to 64.

The survey, which was available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, was completed by 4,478 households. The margin of error for these estimates is +/-1.71 percentage points. The full report, Health Insurance Coverage in Massachusetts: Results from the 2008-2010 Massachusetts Health InsuranceSurveys, is available online. 
 

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