The Health Now! Massachusetts campaign brings together the same broad based coalition that led the successful 1996 effort to pass Chapter 203, which has brought health coverage to over 250,000 children and adults.
However, nearly 400,000 Massachusetts residents remain uninsured, including parents, older adolescents, and low income working adults. While about 6% of residents are now uninsured, 18% of adults with household incomes below $28,000 per year (for a family of three) are uninsured.
Uninsured people are more than three times as likely to go without needed doctor’s visits, without needed prescriptions, and without follow-up care and medical treatments. (Commonwealth Fund, 1999).
Latinos are three times as likely and African Americans two times as likely to be uninsured as whites. African Americans and Latinos have higher rates of infant mortality, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and AIDS. (U.S. Surgeon General, 2000).
The Health Now! bill will expand health care access to 85,000 low income individuals in Massachusetts; over ½ of the remaining low income uninsured.
Revenue from the Health Now! bill will fill the current gaps in health care:
Expand MassHealth to 19- and 20-year olds, low-income working adults who do not have children, and parents of insured children.
Support the Free Care Pool system
Provide new benefits for low income seniors
Since 1992, tobacco consumption in Massachusetts has decreased by more than 30% -- or 4 times the rate of decline in the rest of the country (excluding California). Our success is due to the powerful combination of periodic increases in the state’s tobacco excise tax (25-cents in 1992 and 1996) as well as the implementation of a statewide tobacco control program. Despite progress, tobacco remains state’s #1 cause of death and disease.
Although youth smoking in our state is beginning to decrease, 24,000 Massachusetts kids (under 18) become new daily smokers each year.
Each year in Massachusetts, 5.8 million packs of cigarettes are sold illegally to children.
Each year, 10,200 Massachusetts residents die prematurely from tobacco use. That means that every day, 28 Massachusetts families lose a loved one from tobacco use.
Health care expenditures in Massachusetts directly related to tobacco use totals $2.4 billion annually.
Increasing tobacco prices is the single most effective way to reduce tobacco use, especially among children. Children, minorities, and low-income smokers are two to three times more likely to quit or to smoke less than other smokers in response to price increases. According to the US Surgeon General, a 10 percent increase in price will result in a reduction of cigarette consumption by 3 to 5 percent, with further reductions of up to 7 percent occurring over the following years. The Health Now! Massachusetts bill will expand health coverage in low-income communities, providing regular physician care as well as medication needed for quitting.