Massachusetts governor approves mandatory health insurance

| Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Gov. Mitt Romney has signed a bill to make Massachusetts the first state 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 requires all residents to be insured starting July 1, 2007.

Romney, however, used his line-item veto power to remove a provision that would have required businesses that don’t offer insurance – and have more than 10 workers – to pay $295 a year, per employee.

Officials said some employers might consider it cheaper to pay the fee than to insure workers. But legislative leaders said they would work to override the change, The Associated Press reported.

As approved by the governor, a combination of financial incentives and penalties will be used to expand access to health care during the next three years. Coverage also will be extended to the state’s estimated 550,000 uninsured, The AP reported.

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

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