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MA Proponent of Health Insurance Mandate Says 'Mean' Penalties Needed to Force People to Buy Insurance
Date:1/11/2008

Perata Roadblock to CA Mandate Weakens After SEIU Contributes $450K to Prop

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SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jan. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Penalties must be "mean" or people will not be compelled to buy health insurance under the Massachusetts mandatory purchase law, according to a proponent of the law who also did the financial projections for a similar plan pending in California.

As reported in the Boston Globe, Jonathan Gruber, a member of the Massachusetts board responsible for implementing the plan, said, "The mandate has to be enforced ... We need to think beyond what looks mean and do what's right."

"If the state has to be 'mean' by requiring steep punitive fines to get people to buy unaffordable health insurance, the mandatory purchase regime isn't working," said Carmen Balber with the nonprofit Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). "When premiums, co-pays and deductibles quickly add up to 10% and more of a family's income, it's no wonder Massachusetts consumers are choosing not to buy high cost private insurance."

Gruber argued that proposed penalties, as high as $912 per person, per year, are not large enough to force individuals to buy insurance rather than pay the penalty under Massachusetts' mandatory purchase law.

Signs are that California Senate resistance to a similar health plan is crumbling. Commentators reported that California Senate Leader Don Perata made comments yesterday that suggested he expected the bill to clear his house. The comments came after the legislation's leading proponent, the Service Employees International Union, made $450,000 in contributions this week to a campaign committee supporting Proposition 93, the measure that would extend the terms of legislative incumbents including Senator Perata. The committee has ties to the Senate leader.

FTCR sent a letter to the Senate Health committee yesterday pointing out the extensive failures in
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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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