Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney unveiled an ambitious proposal on Sunday for expanding health care coverage to 460,000 uninsured Massachusetts residents, while extending an invitation to Democrats to join in the effort.
Romney laid out his “Commonwealth Care” plan in a letter published in the Boston Sunday Globe. In it, he praised his work with the legislature, ticking off of list of bipartisan accomplishments, then asked for the same support for health care reform.
“Together, I know we can forge a final product that will truly serve the people of the Commonwealth,” Romney wrote in the letter.
A primary part of the plan would change existing insurance laws to allow insurers to offer cheaper plans with fewer benefits than are now mandated. The proposed “Commonwealth Care Basic” plans would provide primary, preventive, specialty, and catastrophic care, but with higher deductibles, more restrictions, and fewer “bells, whistles and costly options” currently required by law, Romney wrote.
If the state’s Medical Security Trust were to pay to insure the unemployed, it would cover a third of the state’s uninsured, Romney said. Another third could be covered by Medicaid — called MassHealth. The last third could be covered with a new Safety Net Care, which would replace the existing Uncompensated Care Pool, which is funded by hospitals.
Romney said his plan would also manage health care better, so that appropriate care is given, and avoiding unnecessary and costly treatments. Romney also proposed to cut down on fraud, and cut down on waste.
“It will not require new taxes. What it will do is restrain the growth in health care costs and change how we provide health care for those who receive it at taxpayer expense,” he wrote.
Romney has launched the proposal just weeks after an unsuccessful attempt to unseat democrats and shift power in the legislature toward the Republicans, and just days after Senate President Robert Travaglini, a Democrat, promised to make health care a legislative priority.
Romney has been working on the proposal for more than a year, but had released few details before Sunday. Romney has apparently sped up his timetable, reaching out to Democratic leaders to begin discussions as soon as this week, a Democratic aide told the Globe.
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