News & Events

Give Mass. model time to succeed (MS)

TO MAKE a cultural and behavioral shift takes strong will, education, and time. Since health reform was passed in Massachusetts in April 2006, 432,000 people now have health insurance. Many of those newly insured are seeing doctors for the first time in years.

However, as healthcare advocates, we understand that access to insurance is the first step. We know there are still many challenges to work through, particularly facilitating an enormous shift in thinking and behavior, resulting in cost savings and better health outcomes. Legislation passed last summer began this shift toward lower-cost, higher-quality care.

In "ER visits, costs in Mass. climb," Liz Kowalczyk reported about the increase in emergency room visits between 2005 and 2007 and wrote, "The large portion of visits in which the patient didn’t require immediate treatment, or could have been treated in a doctors’ office, remained essentially unchanged over those years at 47 percent." Change doesn’t happen overnight.

Many people used the emergency room as their primary care before health reform was passed because they had no other options. We and many other advocates, providers, and insurers are working to educate consumers that ER visits are not the substitute for seeing a primary care doctor. We think primary care physicians and patients should be supported appropriately so that the best care can be delivered in the best setting for the best price.

As we travel on this path of health reform, it is important to keep our eyes on the doughnut and not on the hole.

Georgia Maheras
Private market policy manager
Health Care for All