DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE VERSION: Health Now! 4-page Overview
“An Act Expanding Access to Health Care, Reducing Youth Smoking and the Use of Tobacco Products, and Improving the Public Health in the Commonwealth"
Health Now! Massachusetts Promotes Public Health
The Health Now! Massachusetts campaign brings together a broad-based alliance that includes consumer health care, tobacco control and public health advocates, physicians, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers, insurers, labor unions, and grassroots supporters.
The Health Now! legislation increases the tobacco excise tax by 50-cents per pack, raising approximately $158 million annually. The bill will also leverage matching federal funds of over $200 million. Our goal is to earmark these funds to:
1. Expand Coverage and Support Existing Health Care Commitments
Thousands of Massachusetts residents still lack healthcare. Health Now! will provide affordable health care to a substantial portion of Massachusetts’ residents currently living without health insurance. The bill will expand MassHealth and other public initiatives aimed at uninsured, low-income workers without minor children, parents of children already eligible for benefits, and 19 and 20 year olds, while maintaining the current level of health care coverage for children and seniors.
2. Reduce Youth and Adult Tobacco Use
Tobacco use is the #1 cause of preventable death and disease in the country. Increasing the tobacco tax will directly reduce tobacco use among youth and adults, saving thousands of lives every year, and Health Now! will ensure that tobacco treatment options are available through all state health care programs.
3. Invest in Public Health
Health Now! supports an expanded, more comprehensive community health worker program to educate, inform and reach out to under-served populations throughout the state, improving access to prevention efforts and primary care. In addition, new health care coverage, partnered with community health worker outreach programs, helps to address racial and ethnic disparities in quality health care.
4. Stabilize and Strengthen Our Health Care Delivery System
Health Now! will reduce demand on the Free Care Pool through expanded health care coverage and will direct revenues to the Free Care Pool, thus reducing its shortfall. This will protect hospitals and health centers that depend on the Pool for payments to care for the uninsured.