It's not winning much attention, especially from the Wall Street Journal which loves to print anything negative about Massachusetts health reform, but the new report from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation on the cost of reform after six years of operation, is important:
"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."
The Foundation is the respected, long-time, business-backed Massachusetts state fiscal watchdog agency, led by the respected Mike Widmer. In my years in the State House, I had loads of agreement and disagreements with MTF. Yet even in disagreements, they always hold the respect of friends and foes alike.
Across the land, it is accepted wisdom that Massachusetts health reform has been a fiscal nightmare and is driving the state to near bankruptcy. The MTF report will not change that prevailing wisdom because so many don't want the judgment to change. It just happens to be the truth.
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