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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Thursday, February 8, 2007

Insurance panel reconsiders drug coverage

By Alice Dembner, Globe Staff

A state board decided today to reconsider whether prescription drug coverage should be part of the basic health insurance everyone in the state must have by July 1.

Members of the board, which is overseeing the state's universal health insurance law, agree that medicines are an essential part of any comprehensive coverage, but they are seeking ways to keep insurance premiums affordable.

In addition, they are concerned that a drug requirement could force as many as 200,000 people who are already insured to buy more coverage.

Today, the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector board asked insurance companies to price out two new plans -- one with drug coverage and one without.

The board is expected to review the new bids at its March 8 meeting and make a final decision on March 20 about what level of coverage will satisfy the new state mandate.

"Hopefully, what we're doing is insuring more and more people and not throwing people off," said Leslie Kirwan, chairman of the board. "If that means a phased approach, we should consider that."

(George Rizer/Globe Staff)
Leslie Kirwan with Gov. Deval Patrick

Under the new law, all adults must obtain at least the minimal coverage by July 1 or pay a penalty, unless they secure a waiver by proving they can't afford insurance.

Individuals earning less than 300 percent of the poverty level, of $29,400, are eligible for a separate, state-subsidized insurance plan.

Posted by Karen Weintraub at 02:58 PM
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