Reporting from Washington and Boston - Three years ago, Massachusetts passed the most sweeping healthcare bill in the country, adopting a plan that closely resembles the proposals being considered by Congress. It is a plan that now offers powerful lessons for the whole nation.
The state's system, like the proposals moving toward votes in the House and Senate, focused on three goals: making medical insurance almost universal, fostering competition through a regulated insurance exchange, and helping low-income workers pay for coverage.
Today, Massachusetts leads the nation with 96% of its residents covered by insurance -- an even larger share than some of the plans before Congress would cover. The employer-based insurance system remains intact despite fears that the state's healthcare overhaul might cause companies to pull back.
And at least some Massachusetts residents who buy coverage are paying less.
But insurance premiums for most residents are going up, not down. Many middle-class people who had insurance before the overhaul see little change -- except that they're spending more. They're seeing little or no difference in the quality of their care.
And this, at the very minimum, is what is in store for the entire country.
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