Massachusetts’ health care reform holds lessons for national effort

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Massachusetts’ six years of experience with health care reform holds valuable lessons for the nation as it prepares to begin fully implementing the Affordable Care Act in 2014. In a September 5, 2012 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Vanderbilt University’s John Graves and Katherine Swartz, professor of health economics and policy at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), suggest that new policies might be needed both in Massachusetts and the nation to help minimize long-term gaps in insurance coverage for certain groups of people.

Graves, a recent graduate of Harvard’s Ph.D. in Health Policy Program, and Swartz said data collected both before and after Massachusetts implemented health care reform indicate that, while the lengths of uninsured spells were minimized for many Massachusetts adults relative to those living in neighboring states after the Massachusetts reforms, the percentage of long-term uninsured did not change dramatically. The authors suggest that low-income people who have access to, but cannot afford, employer-sponsored insurance plans may need increased eligibility for coverage from state-based health insurance exchanges.