Massachusetts’s healthcare law, passed in 2006, served as a model for the Affordable Care Act, and the state’s experience during its first year of enrollment offers important lessons for what we can expect over the first six months for the ACA.
Recently President Obama traveled to Massachusetts to discuss the Affordable Care Act, which expanded these principles nationwide. As current Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick explained in his introduction of the President, there were striking similarities in the roll-outs of the now very successful Massachusetts reforms and the Affordable Care Act in its first few weeks:
"But our launch seven years ago was not flawless. We asked an IT staffer who has been at our Connector since the beginning what the start of implementing reform was like. And this is what he said, and I’m quoting: “We didn’t have a complicated eligibility process back then, but we did have outages caused by traffic peaks. We experienced some issues with data mapping of plan detail that carriers called us on. Our provider searches were not good, and the website was a constant work in progress over the first few years. But other than that, it was smooth.”
"Any of this sound familiar, Mr. President?
"So we started out with a website that needed work. We had a lot of people with a lot of reasonable questions and not a good enough way to get them the answers. But people were patient, we had good leadership, and that same coalition stuck with it and with us to work through the fixes, tech surge and all. Why? Why? Because health reform in Massachusetts, like the Affordable Care Act, is not a website. It’s a values statement. (Applause.) It's about insuring people against a medical catastrophe. It's about being our brothers' and our sisters' keeper by helping others help themselves."