Bill would help lower premiums for small businesses and individuals, and eliminate individuals’ co-pays for several chronic medical conditions
For Immediate Release: September 27, 2021
BOSTON – Referring to its potential to help South Shore businesses recover from financial burdens of the pandemic, Senator John F. Keenan on Monday called on the passage of the More Affordable Care Act (S.782).
“Even before we entered a global public health crisis, small businesses in my district and across the Commonwealth struggled to offer their employees affordable health insurance,” Senator Keenan (D-Quincy) said at Monday’s legislative briefing. “Passing the MAC Act would help ease the financial burden of health care for countless Massachusetts residents and employers.”
The MAC Act would lower premiums for individuals and small businesses by establishing a reinsurance program that would share the risk for high-cost patients funded in part by a waiver granted through the federal government.
“As costs for care and coverage have increased so dramatically in recent years, health insurance has become an obstacle for too many businesses because hiring new employees means insuring more employees,” said Senator Keenan. “So many local employers are struggling to hire workers at this stage of the pandemic, when healthcare costs are on all our minds more than ever.”
Even before the pandemic, rising healthcare costs had been identified by local officials as a strain on the business community. Both the South Shore Chamber of Commerce and Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce have advocated for finding ways to alleviate healthcare costs for employers.
“Sen. Keenan has proposed an innovative fresh step of allowing them to pool together for higher risk, higher cost cases. This would be a positive step to helping small businesses struggling with recovery,” said South Shore Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Peter Forman.
The City of Quincy listed healthcare expense reduction and other forms of insurance assistance as “key needs” for local businesses in its March 2020 Small Business Plan. Similarly, a 2018 study commissioned by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission identified Massachusetts as the state with the second highest average price for health insurance premiums paid by small businesses.
Apart from the benefits afforded by its reinsurance program, the MAC Act would also extend new cost-savings for individuals diagnosed with certain conditions that disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities. The MAC Act would eliminate co-pays for treatments for diabetes, asthma/COPD, hypertension, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, opioid use disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
Additionally, the MAC Act would help keep deductibles, copays and premiums from rising rapidly by updating the Health Policy Commission cost trends process to create a specific consumer cost growth benchmark for insurers, while also pushing back on unreasonable health insurance premium increases by strengthening the Division of Insurance health insurance rate review process and enhancing transparency.