A collaboration between Kaiser Health News
examines how Massachusetts’ 2006 health care law has become a laboratory for congressional leaders as they consider possible approaches to a national health care overhaul. "Today, three years after its health care law passed, 97 percent of state residents are insured, the highest coverage rate in the country. But a primary tool to achieve that rate – the individual insurance mandate, enforced with a hefty fine at tax time – remains the most controversial part of the state’s health reform efforts." And the problems confronted by Massachusetts, a relatively wealthy state, "could be even more daunting when stretched across the nation." But some Washington Democrats "including Sen. Max Baucus of Montana and Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy see the individual mandate as a pre-condition of universal coverage. By forcing all people into the insurance mix, advocates say, the cost of everyone’s premium will go down" (Brown, 5/31).