Massachusetts lawmakers OK mandatory health insurance bill

| 4/7/2006

Massachusetts lawmakers approved a bill Tuesday, April 4, that would make the state the first in the nation to make health insurance coverage mandatory. It could affect a lot of truckers in the state.

A key provision in the plan would require all residents to be insured starting July 1, 2007. Residents would be required to either purchase insurance directly or obtain it through their employer.

The House approved the effort on a 155-2 vote and the Senate endorsed it by unanimous consent. The bill – H4479 – was sent to Gov. Mitt Romney’s desk, who has expressed support for the bill.

A combination of financial incentives and penalties would be used to expand access to health care during the next three years. Coverage also would be extended to the state’s estimated 500,000 uninsured, The Associated Press reported.

Poor people would get free – or heavily subsidized coverage. Those who can afford insurance but don’t purchase it would face increasing tax penalties while those already insured would see a drop in their premiums.

Businesses with more than 10 workers that don’t offer insurance would be required to pay the state $295 a year, per employee, The Harvard Crimson reported.