OK, first, Rick Lord, President of Associated Industries of MA, is undeniably one of the nicest guys in Massachusetts public policy. A business leader with a brain and heart. A good guy. So it makes sense for WBUR’s new blog to post him first. Unfortunately, as of about 9pm tonight, the reply function on their new site isn’t working — so we have to set some important factual matters straight right here instead of their site. Rick writes about the progress of health reform implementation. Fine until he gets to the money quote, about “minimum creditable coverage” and prescription drugs, right here:
Setting this standard too high will result in products that are simply not affordable for individuals at the lower end of the income spectrum. For example, requiring insurance products to cover prescription drugs will force 200,000 individuals who currently purchase health insurance to buy more expensive coverage than they already have. We do not believe this was the intent of the reform law that promised to offer individuals more choice and flexibility on selecting insurance products.
Two comments on the “intent of the reform law:”
1. At the ACT Coalition’s Monday press briefing on MCC, Rep. Patricia Walrath, House Chair of the Legislature’s Health Care Financing Committee and Chair of the Health Reform Conference Committee, stated with no margin for confusion her legislative intent that prescription drug coverage would be part of the MCC standard. Sen. Richard Moore, Walrath’s Senate counterpart, sent a written statement making the same conclusion.
2. How about Mitt Romney? What was his “intent?” Click here for Gov. Mitt Romney’s powerpoint presentation of April 6 2005, slide four.
“What is a Commonwealth Care Affordable Insurance Product?” is the headline.
First bullet: “This is not a ‘bare-bones’ product. Policy must include:”
Sixth item: “Prescription drug benefits“
Important Note: In April 2005, Romney referred to coverage for the under-300% population as “Safety Net Care,” and non-subsidized coverage for the over-300% fpl population as “Commonwealth Care.”
Intent? Unless Rick has some evidence to put on the table, it’s case closed.
Second comment: “requiring insurance products to cover prescription drugs will force 200,000 individuals who currently purchase health insurance to buy more expensive coverage than they already have…”
Correction — the MA Association of Health Plans released a single number, 200,000, claiming 200,000 current policy holders had coverage that does not meet the MCC standards being discussed by the Connector Board. MAHP did not provide any information on the cost of these policies — whether they meet the .60 actuarial standard, and if not, by how much. Nothing. Nada. Just the 200,000 number with no back-up documentation. Rick, we’ve been asking them to be “transparent” about their number since they released it a month ago, and they have refused to release any other numbers beyond 200,000. Maybe we can ask them together. In the meantime, there is not a shred of evidence to back up your statement.