Obamacare Representative Points to Slow Start in Massachusetts’ Health Reform

The Medicaid director in charge of overseeing the roll-out of Obamacare  was grilled today by Republicans about government website problems. Marilynn Tavenner and others point to the similarly slow start to Massachusetts’ health reform.

Tavenner told the often hostile House Ways and Means Committee members that about 700,000 thousand people have submitted applications on Healthcare.gov, but she could not answer questions about how many have actually enrolled in insurance plans.

She acknowledged it was likely a much smaller number, but said that was to be expected based on Massachusetts’ experience with its 2006 health law. 

“They started out very slowly. It took them years to get to where they are today, but they do have good coverage. And if you look at their outcomes, they’ve got excellent outcomes in health care as well,” Tavenner says.

Like Obamacare, Massachusetts’ health law required almost all residents to have health insurance and those who were eligible signed up for a government-subsidized plan.

The Massachusetts agency overseeing that process reported that a vast majority signed up near the end of the enrollment period, and very few at the beginning.

Many consumers back then complained about bureaucratic glitches, long hold times, and contradictory information from call-center employees. Today, health officials report approximately 97 percent of Massachusetts residents are insured.