Write Boston Globe About Yesterday’s Inaccurate Editorial!

Yesterday the Boston Globe wrote a factually inaccurate editorial titled “Mass bashers take note: Health reform is working,” and we need you to write a letter to the editor asking the Globe to correct their mistake and take the sustainability of health reform seriously:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2009/08/05/mass_bashers_take_note_health_reform_is_working/

In it, Globe editors take Blue Dog Democrats and Republicans to task for criticizing the Massachusetts health reform law as being too expensive or unsustainable. You may wonder why this is such an illegitimate concern, given that a dozen health reform laws similar to ours have all run into budget crises, been curtailed over time, and failed to reduce the uninsured population over the medium-term – this includes the massive Medicaid expansion we implemented right here in Massachusetts during the mid-1990s. You might wonder why the Globe is portraying concern about sustainability as a right-wing criticism, when our law contained no cost control, almost no new revenue, and after its passage Senate President Therese Murray remarked “If we do not constrain healthcare costs, the system we worked so hard to create and implement will collapse”; Jon Kingsdale, Director of the Commonwealth Connector, also commented to USA Today “If we have double-digit increases (annually in costs), health reform is not sustainable.”

The Globe is not concerned about sustainability because of the “the facts”: a recent report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (a business advocacy group in Massachusetts) “put the cost to the state taxpayer at about $88 million a year, less than four-tenths of 1 percent of the state budget of $27 billion.”

There is only one problem with the Globe’s facts: they’re wrong! According to the Mass Taxpayers Foundation report, the cost of Mass health reform is upwards of $800 million in 2009! That cost, also according to the MTF, is likely to rise to $900 million in 2010, unless the Commonwealth slashes $200 million in safety net payments to Boston Medical Center and the Cambridge Health Alliance, who disproportionately care for the state’s uninsured and low-income communities. You may have read recently that BMC and CHA are already shutting down facilities and cutting upwards of 15% of their operations. Cutting $200 million further would destroy the safety net for Eastern Massachusetts, even if it would lower the costs of health reform sufficiently for the Mass Taxpayers Foundation to have made this claim: since the federal government pays half of health reform, if the law costs roughly $700 million next year, and the state pays halfof that, this is the equivalent of an $88 million INCREASE in spending per year, for each of the first four years of health reform.

The Globe got it wrong, claiming that the total costs of the law were $88 million per year. Congress, which is on the verge of passing national health reform, does not have the luxury of having another entity pay half of its expenses as Massachusetts did. It would be extremely foolish to replicate the Massachusetts experiment of expanding coverage with no cost control and no new revenue. We have seen this formula falter in state after state, and it is precisely the combination of expanded access and effective cost control that makes single payer the best option for Massachusetts and the nation.

Please write a letter to the editor of the Globe, in your own words, asking them to correct their mistake, and that we shouldn’t repeat the failed experiments of the states nationally. Send an email to: letter@globe.com

For more detail on other states who have passed unsustainable health reform, see the article “State Health Reform Flatlines,” by Steffie Woolhandler, Benjamin Day, and David Himmelstein: http://www.pnhp.org/states_flatline/