October 1 was full up in HCFAland.
At the State House, the Public Health Committee held a hearing on a number of bills dealing with prescription drugs and related topics. HCFA advocated forcefully for restricting prescription drug marketing that interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.
A number of consumers also joined us in testifying in support of our bill to “remove barriers to cost-effective care.” The bill, H. 2084, would eliminate co-pays and deductibles for cost-effective prescription medications and treatments in order to increase adherence, and help patients avoid further complications and hospitalizations. We’ll have more to say about that later.
At the same time, the Health Policy Commission opened their first day of the Cost Trends Hearing. With the hearings just 2 days long now, we’re not calling it the “Health Wonk Boot Camp” anymore. But it was informative, with good discussions on mental health integration, provider consolidation, system improvements, the impact of the movement towards PPOs on payment reform, and much else. We’ll have lots more to say about the hearings, including our full detailed report, by the end of the week.
While all of this was happening, the Massachusetts Health Connector moved into its new phase. There were some hiccups during the day, with website glitches for some. But we were able to walk some very grateful people through the process today, who are now enrolled in new coverage. The Connector also kept in close touch with key stakeholders during the day, letting us know about issues and how they were being fixed. All in all, it was a very solid opening, with more to come.
We were also in demand nationally. NPR reporter Dick Knox filed a nice story quoting two HCFA staffers on the lessons from Massachusetts for the Obamacare rollout. This was picked up by the Atlantic, who observed that, “Some Americans Say They Support the Affordable Care Act but Not Obamacare:”
Kate Bicego, who manages consumer assistance for the Massachusetts health consumer group Health Care For All, said people remain surprised to hear that there are health plans they can afford, that many qualify for help with paying premiums, and that they won’t be penalized for not buying something they can’t afford.
“Once I talk to them for about an hour about ‘This is actually what the law does,'” Bicego said, “people are just as excited as I am about what this means.”
There are legitimate reasons one might support or oppose the healthcare law, but misunderstanding its names or basic provisions is no longer among them.
Since its initial passage, polls have continued to show that many people who say they are opposed to the Affordable Care Act actually do endorse its provisions.
The proof is this great piece from Jimmy Kimmel last night. Kimmel asked folks which do they like better, Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act? You gotta see this: