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The White House Makes The Case for a Health Care Overhaul...State by State

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is rolling out individual reports for each state today that the White House says "highlight the urgent need for health reform across the nation." Here's how the White House make the case for Massachusetts:

THE HEALTH CARE STATUS QUO: Why Massachusetts Needs Health Reform

Congress and the President are working to enact health care reform legislation that protects what works about health care and fixes what is broken. Massachusetts took groundbreaking initial steps toward these goals in 2006 with the passage of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Act. Reform measures have been successful, with more than half of the previously uninsured population now covered and high program satisfaction. Yet sky-rocketing health care costs continue to hurt families and businesses and strain state budgets. Families and businesses in Massachusetts deserve better.

INSURANCE COVERAGE HAS INCREASED IN MASSACHUSETTS AS A RESULT OF REFORM

2.6 percent of people in Massachusetts are uninsured, a decrease from 5.7 percent in 2007. (1)
Almost 450,000 individuals have enrolled in private or subsidized health insurance plans since reform implementation. (2)
Employer-based coverage in Massachusetts is increasing, with 85,000 new enrollees between 2007 and 2008. (3)
Employers offering coverage in Massachusetts held steady around 72 percent between 2001 and 2007, while the percent of employers offering coverage nationally declined from 68 to 60 percent. (4)
Despite improvement due to the Connector, insurance choices remain limited. Blue Cross Blue Shield MA alone constitutes 50 percent of the health insurance market share in the state. (5)

BUT MASSACHUSETTSANS CAN’T AFFORD THE STATUS QUO

Roughly 5 million people in Massachusetts get health insurance on the job,6 where family premiums average $14,220, about the annual earning of a full-time minimum wage job. (7)
Since 2000 alone, average family premiums have increased by 94 percent in Massachusetts. (8)
Even the Commonwealth Care program faced premium increases of 10 percent in the past year due to rising health care costs. (9)
Household budgets are strained by high costs: 27 percent of middle-income Massachusetts families spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care. (10)
High costs block access to care: 7 percent of people in Massachusetts report not visiting a doctor due to high costs. (11) However, this has significantly improved since 2007. (12)

MASSACHUSETTSANS NEED HIGHER QUALITY, GREATER VALUE, AND MORE PREVENTATIVE CARE

While the overall quality of care in Massachusetts is rated as “Strong,” the quality of chronic care is rated as “Average.” (13)
Preventative measures that could keep Massachusettsans healthier and out of the hospital have improved with reform measures but remain underutilized, leading to problems across the age spectrum:

13 percent of children in Massachusetts are obese.
13 percent of women over the age of 50 in Massachusetts have not received a mammogram in the past two years.
29 percent of men over the age of 50 in Massachusetts have never had a colorectal cancer screening.
78 percent of adults over the age of 65 in Massachusetts have received a flu vaccine in the past year. (14)

The need for reform in Massachusetts and across the country is clear. Despite increased access to coverage and medical care, Massachusetts needs national reform to help control costs and promote quality. Massachusetts families simply can’t afford the status quo and deserve better. President Obama is committed to working with Congress to pass health reform this year that reduces costs for families, businesses and government; protects people’s choice of doctors, hospitals and health plans; and assures affordable, quality health care for all Americans.

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1 U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey. HIA-4 Health Insurance Coverage Status and Type of Coverage by State--All Persons: 1999 to 2007, 2007.
2 Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey - Insurance Component, 2006, Table X.D.
Projected 2009 premiums based on Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, "National Health Expenditure Data," available at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/nationalhealthexpenddata/.
3 Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey - Insurance Component, 2000, Table II.D.1.
Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey - Insurance Component, 2006, Table X.D.
Projected 2009 premiums based on Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, "National Health Expenditure Data," available at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/nationalhealthexpenddata/.
4 Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2006.
5 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007.
6 Furnas, B., Harbage, P. (2009). "The Cost Shift from the Uninsured." Center for American Progress.
7 U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic Supplements, March 2007 and 2008.
8 U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey. HIA-4 Health Insurance Coverage Status and Type of Coverage by State--All Persons: 1999 to 2007, 2007.
9 Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey - Insurance Component, 2006, Table II.A.1a.
10 Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey - Insurance Component, 2001, 2006, Table II.A.2.
11 Health Care for America Now. (2009). "Premiums Soaring in Consolidated Health Insurance Market." Health Care for America Now.
12 Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. 2007 State Snapshots. Available http://statesnapshots.ahrq.gov/snaps07/index.jsp.
13 Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative. 2007 National Survey of Children's Health, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health.
14 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007.

This program aired on June 26, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.

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