Massachusetts Health Reform Reflects Consumers' Voice

Dates of Project: August 2006 through January 2012

Field of Work: Consumer advocacy in health care reform in Massachusetts

Problem Synopsis: In 2006, Massachusetts passed a landmark law to expand affordable health insurance to most of the commonwealth's 530,000 uninsured residents. The ambitious law included an individual mandate, with government subsidies to make insurance affordable for people with low incomes. While hospitals, providers, and insurers had a solid base of support to advocate for their positions, consumers lacked an organized voice to ensure they were heard as the law was implemented.

Synopsis of the Work: Health Care for All organized and trained consumers to participate in decision-making as health reform was implemented in Massachusetts, and prepared materials to educate consumers, advocates, and policy-makers about coverage and quality of care. The group also involved consumers in helping to reform the way in which doctors, hospitals and other providers are paid.

Key Results

The project:

  • Expanded a broad-based coalition, Affordable Care Today, to monitor and guide implementation of the Massachusetts health care reform law
  • Facilitated enrollment in new insurance programs, both by training state and community-based organizations and through the HelpLine, a telephone resource that provided information about coverage
  • Established the Consumer Health Quality Council, recruiting members who had a personal experience with a serious medical error to engage in a variety of patient safety and quality improvement initiatives
  • Organized Campaign for Better Care, a coalition of consumer organizations concerned about health care costs and payment reform
  • Produced a wide variety of educational materials for consumers, health groups, public officials, the media, and other stakeholders about implementing health reform and reforming payment systems