Massachusetts Health Plan, NAM Withdraws from HCCU Process, Last Day

By April 8, 2006Health Care


Massachusetts Health Plan – the jury is out, fine detail are lacking, but my gut instincts run against the Massachusetts universal health coverage plan so far. I’ll look more closely at this as more details emerge and I hear the concerns of my new members (see 3 below) on this and related legislation. By any definition this is a bold gambit by Governor Romney (R-MA) and his legislature. I still think that any initiative that seeks to expand coverage to a broken health care system is inevitably doomed, no matter how couched.

By any measure, this is a new law that will bear watching closely indeed.

NAM Withdraws from HCCU Process – I wrote you last year (May 31, 2005; see below) after the New York Times’ Robert Pear revealed the existence of the Health Care Coverage for Uninsured consensus-building process. I write you today to inform you that the NAM has withdrawn from the HCCU.

Part of our concern is the impossibility of inserting my ultimate successor into the wilds and weeds of the HCCU process and debate. Our concerns also range from the political import of a future HCCU report release to the potential impact of Medicaid expansion on the states (even with the HCCU hold-harmless rhetoric) to concerns regarding the federal fiscal impact to concerns regarding the extent of government intervention into the private market.

There are some schools of thought that hold that if this type of broad business, labor, health care, insurance, public interest coalition can’t produce a consensus solution on the uninsured, then no one can. That’s not altogether a bad thing, considering some of what this group has been discussing. A better consensus seems likely on addressing cost drivers in health care.

NAM and Strange Health Care Bedfellows – perhaps critics of our “decadent Western culture” may have it a tiny bit right when one looks to recent reports. Just recently, Sen. Clinton (D-NY) and former Speaker Newt Gingrich were “reportedly seen” together in a very big, bipartisan health IT bed. Then there was Robert Pear’s article this past Sunday (Health Leaders Seek Consensus Over Uninsured ) that revealed the NAM (and yours truly) to be ensconced in a crowded strange bedfellow bed on the uninsured, some 24 ideologically diverse organizations wide. Repent, you wandering wonks, repent!

Strange though the bedfellows may be (e.g. my new friend, Ron Pollack), I’ve found the discussion and debates to be highly interesting and potentially useful. Both sides are wiser to the other’s concerns and there is potentially far more room for agreement than we might have previously thought possible, though eyes remain wide open and principles intact. Maybe the end result will be a coherent proposal that many of us can support to the Hill; more likely the whole thing will tear itself apart in time. But, the effort is noteworthy in itself. I do slightly regret my strange bedfellow diatribes of the past.

However, no matter how appealing the current trend to greater bipartisanship may be and how wide the proliferation of strange beds may become, I will draw the line at communal policy hot-tubs. One must have principals, even out here in the decadent West…

Last NAM Day – I’m really pretty sure that the news about my departure has spread pretty widely by now. But, if any of you have missed it previously, today is my last NAM day. I’ll leave my post here at the NAM to join the National Retail Federation Monday as Vice President, Employee Benefit Policy Counsel. My contact information as of April 10 will be The main NRF number is 202 / 783-7971.

I’m excited about joining the NRF and learning to represent a new industry. But, I know I’ll always have friends in manufacturing…and you’ll have one in retail.