Back in 2006, Massachusetts enacted their own public option for health care, Commonwealth Care—anticipating the current debate on the advisability of doing the same thing on the national level. It was introduced to help residents comply with a new state law that required everyone to have health insurance. But just like every other state, Massachusetts has been dealing with a weak economy. As a result, the number of people enrolling in the public option have spiked, while funds have dropped. So the commonwealth is considering semi-arbitrarily eliminating 30,000 legal immigrants from eligibility.
“It either sends the message that health care reform cannot be done, period,” said Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, “or it opens the door to doing it halfway and excluding immigrants from the process.”
Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed re-adding $70 million—mere pocket change—to the program, though he admits he doesn't know where the money will come from. "I know we don't have very much money, but we made a commitment in this commonwealth to embark down this health care reform path."
Massachusetts should be a warning sign to Congress as they debate legislation that would enact a public option for health care in the middle of a recession. Of course, maybe funding universal health care won't be much of a challenge once they start imposing enormously high taxes on America's wealthiest individuals to pay for it.
Reason's Ronald Bailey on Massachusetts health care here.