Today the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed legislation required to implement the ACA. The bill passed on a 116-32 vote that was almost all along party lines. Every Republican voted no, and all but two Democrats voted in favor of the bill.
The vote was preceded by a spirited, if somewhat misguided, debate. Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, chair of the Public Health Committee, began the debate by emphasizing that the ACA would improve coverage by building on our earlier expansions, and save money for state taxpayers: “We’ve been innovators here in this building, and everyone is looking at us. All the states in the nation, even those who aren’t participating, are looking at us to see how we improve the delivery of health care to our citizens.”
He was joined in support of the bill by Rep. Steven Walsh, chair of Health Care Financing. Walsh engaged in a discussion with a number of Republican representatives about the costs of the bill. Republican opposition seemed to be based on misconceptions about the impact of the ACA and the cost to us. The House turned down an amendment proposed by Rep. Daniel Winslow, which would have declared that no state workers or other resources could be used to implement the ACA unless it was fully paid for by the federal government.
Also speaking out eloquently for the ACA was Ways and Means Vice-Chair Rep. Stephen Kulik.
The House approved only a few minor amendments in the process, including a clarifying amendment we supported offered by Rep. Jason Lewis supporting coverage for pregnant women.
We congratulate the House for its support, and look forward to Senate acting on the bill, possibly next week.