(Updated for clarity and accuracy. See above.)
The Health Care Amendment ballot initiative will be taken up second today.
The summary of today’s amendment is as follows:
SECTION 1: The People of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts hereby declare it necessary and expedient to alter the Constitution by the adoption of the following Article of Amendment:
Upon ratification of this amendment and thereafter, it shall be the obligation and duty(1) of the Legislature and executive officials, on behalf of the Commonwealth, to enact and implement such laws, subject to approval by the voters at a statewide election(2), as will ensure that no Massachusetts resident lacks(3) comprehensive(4), affordable(5) and equitably financed(6) health insurance(7) coverage for all medically necessary(8) preventive, acute and chronic health care and mental health care services, prescription drugs and devices(9).
So, the amendment would essentially make health care a right in MA. The language is quite broad an vague, and that’s probably a good thing; it may be just mushy enough not to attract the big guns of special interests. We haven’t heard from them yet … but it’s a long time ’til November. For now, the initiative has broad, even overwhelming support in the polls.
Just to be crystal clear, since there seems to be some confusion: This is not the MassACT ballot initiative, which would covered a lot of people through an enlargement of Medicaid (aka MassHealth). That was taken off the ballot by the coalition that pushed it, since they felt it was better to lobby within the framework of the new health care law.
I wonder how much this amendment will tie together the competing strands of the health care movement in MA, getting the incrementalists and the “single-payer now” folks to get together and pool energies. I think it’s terribly unfortunate how much ill will there has been between the camps. That only helps the special interests (PhRMA et al.), who are squatting on a gold mine of indifference and perceived powerlessness on the part of the public.