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The Massachusetts “budget buster” myth

Enemies of health reform [1] make sport of attacking “Romneycare” in Massachusetts because they know Mitt Romney’s signature achievement [2] in public life served as a model for the Affordable Care Act.

But, as with much of the rhetoric surrounding “Obamacare”, the truth is much different than the tea party narrative of exploding costs and rationed care. To promote the truth about Romneycare, the business affiliated Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation released a report with the scintillating title “Massachusetts Health Reform Spending, 2006-2011: An Update on the ‘Budget Buster’ Myth”. If you can’t wait to tear the cover off of this hot read then you can find the link here [3].

For the shorter version here’s a snippet from the executive summary:

Six years after Massachusetts enacted its groundbreaking health reform law, Chapter 58 of the Acts of 2006, more than 98 percent of the state’s residents have health insurance, access to needed care has improved, and the percentage of employers offering coverage to their workers has climbed despite the national recession.

The gains of health reform have been achieved without placing an unexpected or unmanageable burden on the state’s budget. Annual spending for programs affected by Chapter 58 grew from $1.041 billion in fiscal 2006 to $1.947 billion in fiscal 2011, an increase of approximately $906 million (Table 1). The state’s share of this spending increase is $453 million, or 50 percent of the total. While critics periodically claim that health reform has been a “budget buster,” additional state spending attributable to the health reform law accounted for only 1.4 percent of the Commonwealth’s $32 billion budget in fiscal 2011.

Health reform is working in Massachusetts. That is why legislators used Romneycare as a model for the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare is already working for many people. If it’s given a chance then nearly everyone will benefit after 2014.