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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lessons For The Obamacare Rollout, Courtesy Of Massachusetts

Rick Lord is president of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, a prominent business group. He was also a leader in the broad bipartisan coalition of business, consumers, health care providers and insurers that resulted in what some here still call Romneycare. "I think Massachusetts got health care reform right," says Lord, adding that members of his group are proud that the state is committed to expanding health coverage.

"Today marks a milestone on the nation's long march toward universal health coverage – the launch of online marketplaces, called exchanges, designed to help people find health insurance they can afford. (Obamacare is) an idea pioneered by Massachusetts seven years ago. People here call their program a success – and say the state's exchange was an indispensable factor. Those involved since the beginning say the Massachusetts health insurance exchange, called the Connector, was the brainchild of former MA governor Mitt Romney, a Republican. Glen Shor, who once ran the Connector and is now the state's secretary of administration and finance, is confident the nation will follow Massachusetts' lead. "As the (federal) law begins to be implemented," Shor (a Republican) says, "people will see and feel its positive effects. They'll be able to see through some of the rhetoric and spin."

When the Connector opened for business in late 2006, people signed up. Within a year there were 367,000 newly insured citizens. "Enrollment was fast," Shor says. "One of the clear lessons of the Massachusetts experience is that people want affordable health insurance." Today, 97 percent of the state's 6.6 million people have it – the highest coverage rate of anywhere in America."