Cape Care and health care news from Cape Cod and Massachusetts
Cape community health proposal heard in Boston
Written by Edward F. Maroney
January 22, 2010
State legislators interested, full of questions
A state legislative committee turned a receptive ear this week to Cape Care, a proposed community-based, single-payer health plan for Cape Codders, but questioned the underpinnings of the Cape Care Community Health Trust that would fund it.
Supporters, 20 of whom made the trip to Boston Jan. 20 decked out in green tee shirts that declared their cause of affordable health care for all, appreciated the committee's interest and understood members' objections on the finances.
After noting the two revenue streams that have been discussed - a 7- to 8 percent payroll-based tax and a countywide health tax based on property value, Beth Verani of Cape Care Coalition said the group "has decided, after listening to the concerned feedback from our communities, that such a [property] tax may present an unfair burden to community residents. We have many Cape Codders who are property-rich, but income poor."
The organizers, and several members of the Cape legislative delegation, asked the committee to help Cape Care identify other possible revenue sources. Committee members didn't commit any research funds, but said they wanted to work together to help develop the concept.
Cape Care has been building steam for several years, earning conceptual support from Cape Cod Healthcare, the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, the county government and a number of towns, including Barnstable.
The health plan's backers cite a variety of advantages to a single system of care delivery organized around existing providers, including significant savings on administrative overhead and reduced costs through volume purchasing. Under proposed legislation, the Trust would qualify as a health maintenance organization that would assume the monies now spent by the government on health care, with the remainder coming from the funding mechanisms discussed above.
Even with the Bay State's own Commonwealth Care, speakers testified this week, it's not always possible to be seen by a primary care provider – and health care delayed, they pointed out, can turn into deadly situations. Committee members were interested to learn that the percentage of uninsured Cape Codders remains higher than that of the state as a whole.
Members of the Cape delegation, including Tim Madden, Matt Patrick, Sarah Peake and Cleon Turner (and, by letter, Sen. Rob O'Leary) urged the health financing committee to continue the discussion with Cape Care organizers. Patrick underscored the need when he said his own doctor had retired early rather than hire more people just to keep up with insurance company paperwork.
The co-chairs, Sen. Richard Moore and Rep. Harriet Stanley, appeared sympathetic but realistic during the session. The Coalition has said it will employ electronic medical records to reduce costs, and Moore pointed out that "someone has to keep track of things," a reference to the need to pay for a management structure that can weed out duplication and fraud.
"I commend the folks who put a lot of time and effort into this," Moore said. "There are still a lot of questions as to how to make it work."
Reprinted under Fair Use, in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107