On health care, should United States follow Massachusetts?

    Last week, putative presidential candidate Mitt Romney tried to point out the differences between the federal health law and the insurance changes he championed as governor of Massachusetts.

    Monday night, a speaker at Philadelphia’s Free Library on Vine Street will discuss whether America is following the Massachusetts model.

    The percentage of the uninsured dropped dramatically in Massachusetts after the state began requiring most people to get coverage. Still, many insured people face big barriers to health care.

    Benjamin Day, who will speak Monday, leads Mass-Care, an advocacy group for single-payer health care.

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    “A lot of people are buying skimpy plans, with high deductibles, large co-payments, limited networks, that sort of thing,” Day said.

    After the Massachusetts law passed, Day says new demand for primary care doctors created a huge spike in wait times.

    Days said, similarly, the federal law doesn’t do enough to ease the inevitable doctor shortage. He’s also worried that the national plan is focused on expanding insurance access without giving enough attention to health-care costs.

    Drexel health policy professor Robert Field won’t be at the talk, but he’s studied both plans.

    “Access is generally a happy thing … you’re giving people something. But costs can only be controlled if you take something away,” Field said. “If we are going to spend less on health care, someone is going to earn less for providing health care.”

    Field says truly driving down costs would cause political fights that many officials–and Americans–aren’t ready to face.

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