SPRINGFIELD — In an effort to quell confusion following Congress’ passage Wednesday of a sweeping tax bill, Senator Eric P. Lesser notified constituents on Thursday that Massachusetts is protected from a measure in the bill that effectively repeals the federal health insurance mandate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Despite the bill passed by Congress, which is expected to be signed by President Trump, Massachusetts has a statewide individual mandate.
In a statement, Senator Lesser said:
“All our residents should still make sure that they have health insurance coverage, which must be purchased by January 23, when the current open enrollment period ends. Here in Massachusetts, we are committed to providing healthcare to all our residents and our record speaks for itself — we have nearly 100 percent coverage in our state.
“Regardless of what Congress and President Trump do, I will do everything I can to make sure our residents’ healthcare is protected, and that everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare coverage.”
Those in need of coverage can buy insurance on the state’s insurance exchange, called the Massachusetts Health Connector. They have until Saturday Dec. 23 to select a plan to go into effect in January. They have until Jan. 23 to select coverage that begins in February.
Today, 97.5 percent of Massachusetts residents have health coverage, the highest rate in the country, according to an October 2017 report by the U.S. Census. In part because of this high rate of coverage, Massachusetts was named the healthiest state in the nation in a report by the United Health Foundation.
Massachusetts’ health care reform law passed in 2006 on a bipartisan basis and was signed into law by then-Governor Mitt Romney. As a result, Massachusetts’ health care reform law served as a model for national health care reform in 2009 when Congress passed the ACA requiring a national health insurance mandate.
Massachusetts chose to keep its state-level mandate in place because its benefit coverage standards, which varied slightly from those in the ACA, had proven to be effective in the state’s market. Adults aged 18 and older need to carry health insurance if it is affordable to them and that meets certain coverage standards. More information can be found at www.betterhealthconnector.com.
According to the Massachusetts Health Connector, the individual mandate enables the state to maintain and grow its level of health coverage by keeping the health insurance market stable. When both healthy and sick people buy into health coverage, risk for insurers is balanced and health coverage is more affordable for everyone.