Digital News Report – The Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate yesterday with the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. The state’s Attorney General, Martha Coakley, conceded defeat last night after a 52 – 42 percent defeat.
Brown ran on a platform which included a vote against the health care proposals in Congress.
Massachusetts residents have been living with a similar compulsory health insurance system since 2006. The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority has implemented tax penalties for people failing to obtain insurance.
The Boston Globe reported in 2008 that the Massachusetts system was facing budget shortfalls. Less than a month later they reported that the Commonwealth Care faced a short-term funding gap of $100 million.
In August 2009 the Globe reported that the Bay State had the highest health insurance premiums in the country. Citing a report by the Commonwealth Fund, Massachusetts residents pay an average $13,788 per family. This was 40 percent higher than in 2003. Compare that to an average increase of 33 percent nationwide.
Brown has promised to send national health care reform back to the drawing board. The new Senator wants everyone covered but doesn’t want the taxpayer to be stuck with the bill. The current Congressional proposal includes subsidies for low income Americans.
From Scott Brown for Senate website:
I (Scott Brown) believe that all Americans deserve health care coverage, but I am opposed to the health care legislation that is under consideration in Congress and will vote against it. It will raise taxes, increase government spending and lower the quality of care, especially for elders on Medicare. I support strengthening the existing private market system with policies that will drive down costs and make it easier for people to purchase affordable insurance. In Massachusetts, I support the 2006 healthcare law that was successful in expanding coverage, but I also recognize that the state must now turn its attention to controlling costs.
No one knows for sure why Brown won, but healthcare is the hot-button issue. Coakley had a 30 percent lead in the polls a few months ago. She made a few gaffs, but that may not be the only reason. Perhaps Massachusetts residents feared a national healthcare program modeled after their own.
But Brown says he supports mandated health insurance. It will be interesting to see what he does.
By: Mark Williams