Keller @ Large: How Proposed Health Care Bill Would Impact Massachusetts

BOSTON (CBS) – Just after noon Thursday, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) was on a roll on the Senate floor, ticking off the alleged horrors of the Senate health care reform bill.

“Lower quality coverage, an age tax on the elderly, Medicaid cuts that hurt families across our country,” the list when on, each piece of fallout worse than the last.

We asked Jon Kingsdale, the founding executive director of the state’s Health Care Connector and an expert on health care issues, if Markey’s prophecies were accurate.

“Eventually yes, absolutely,” he said.

For Kingsdale, a Romney appointee who is candid about Obamacare’s failures, the “good news” about the Senate’s draft proposal is the multiyear delay in cutting federal Medicaid funds that have made the Massachusetts system viable.

With Governor Charlie Baker warning of a billion dollar bite out of the state budget if the House bill was to pass, Kingsdale says the more drawn-out process at least gives the state some time to prepare. How?

“Raise revenue, cut benefits, cut the number of eligible enrollees, there are a number of adjustments to be made,” he says. People “should be worried” about the Senate plan, but Kingsdale notes: “it’s cleverly arranged so the dire consequences for individuals are really down the road several years.

health care protest Keller @ Large: How Proposed Health Care Bill Would Impact Massachusetts

Capitol Police arrest a protester against the Senate Republican’s draft health care bill outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Washington, DC, June 22, 2017. (Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Taking the Senate floor before Markey, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) touted his bill, claiming, “we agreed on the need to improve the affordability of health insurance, and policies contained in the discussion draft will do that.”

But not, says Kingsdale, for everyone.

“Particularly if you’re an older person in your 50s or 60s, the amount of the subsidy will be cut substantially, so your premiums on the exchange could double,” he says.

Universal health care was born in Massachusetts a decade ago with a cushion of hefty Medicaid subsidies arranged by Sen. Ted Kennedy with Presidents Bush and Obama. But now all three are gone, and because we lean so heavily on those federal subsidies, Massachusetts stands to feel the pain more than others when those cuts kick in.

Says Kingsdale: “in large measure this is an assault on the free-wheeling Medicaid program that we’ve had.”

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