It’s time to make health care a human right in Massachusetts

Governor Baker has received much credit for his vocal opposition to TrumpCare and national efforts by Republicans to repeal and replace ObamaCare with inhumane health care “fixes.” Unfortunately for Massachusetts residents, Governor Baker’s words are not reflected in his proposals to fix the Commonwealth’s health care problems.

His recent proposal to fix our health care crisis, H.3829, would push low-income people off MassHealth and into ConnectorCare or other commercial plans. Doing so would mean that low-income Massachusetts residents would have to pay more for their coverage while losing benefits. Retaining these benefits could save the state money in the long-run and prevent folks from ending up with crippling debt, not to mention the peace of mind and security that comes with having great health care.

After decades of debates on health care costs, we have all learned that regular access to preventative care is a sure-fire way to reduce health care costs. And we also know that the Governor – a health care policy expert after spending years as a health insurance CEO – knows that soaring costs are a drain on people’s quality of life, and on our state’s budget.

In spite of this knowledge, the Governor has decided to side with President Trump and Congressional Republicans by taking away access to cost- and life-saving services.

His health care proposal, a lighter shade of TrumpCare, would increase out-of-pocket costs for co-pays, kick more than 140,000 residents off Medicaid, and increase deductibles for hardworking Massachusetts residents. He has also proposed a 5-year moratorium on mandates, preventing people with rare health conditions from seeking relief.

Now, in a public statement, the Governor defended his proposal by stating that it is “designed to ensure that everyone who has coverage keeps coverage.” What he failed to mention is that coverage doesn’t mean access to affordable, quality services. It simply means that you have access in theory.

It’s like having a car, but not being able to afford gas, and the car has no seat-belts, and the breaks are squishy.

#CharlieCare is a poorly disguised attempt at scoring political points by pretending to care about fixing one of the most pressing issues of our generation. The Governor’s healthcare proposal does nothing to help fix our broken health care system. If anything, it would exacerbate personal debt and lack of access.

With this proposal, the Governor is asking us to play pretend, and it’s time for this Democratic-led legislature and the mainstream media to end our participation in his political theater.

We should not only reject this cruel attempt at political expediency, but also denounce the Governor for pushing to reverse a 10-year Massachusetts commitment to health insurance coverage expansion.

And then, we in this Democratic-led legislature should present our plan to fix the Commonwealth’s health care crisis.

It’s time for us to continue our proud tradition as the party of hardworking families, the party of bold and smart public policy. Let’s take a step forward by providing America with a blueprint to universal access to health care.

Let’s pass single-payer legislation in 2017 and make health care a human right in Massachusetts.

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