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PRESS RELEASE- Downing's Co-Sponsorship of Health Care Bills: Comprehensive Response To Health Care Crisis- Third in a Series of 3 Releases
February 16, 2007

BOSTON - State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) today announces his support of two major health care policy initiatives.


An Act To Establish The Massachusetts Health Care Trust


Downing has co-sponsored An Act To Establish The Massachusetts Health Care Trust, the intent of which is to provide universal health care coverage to all citizens in Massachusetts through the creation of a uniform and comprehensive health care plan administered by a single public entity – the Massachusetts Health Care Trust (MHCT).  The MHCT would replace all current public and private bureaucracies in Massachusetts.  Recent studies have shown that a single-payer system would significantly reduce administrative costs associated with health care coverage.  In 1998, The Massachusetts Medical Society reported that under a single-payer system, Massachusetts could save enough money to provide quality health coverage to all residents.


Last April, in the climate of costly health care coverage, Massachusetts began addressing affordability and quality issues through passage of Chapter 58 of the Acts of 2006, commonly referred to as Massachusetts’ Health Care Reform.  While this new law expands coverage to previously uninsured citizens, it does not institute a single-payer system and concerns about affordability and minimum credible coverage continue as regulations are being drafted by the newly formed Commonwealth Care Connector’s Board of Directors. 


“I applaud last session’s Legislature for expanding health coverage to hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts citizens through sweeping health care reform.  However, I consider the single-payer health care system to be the most appropriate response to the current health care crisis,” said Downing.  “I will continue working with my colleagues to address this critical need by co-sponsoring and supporting passage of An Act To Establish The Massachusetts Health Care Trust.


Improving Consumer Healthcare Quality


“Knowing that medical errors are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, it is critical that safeguards be developed to protect hospital patients from further health risks,” said Downing.  “This legislation will improve health care quality across the Commonwealth.”


This bill requires hospitals to establish “Patient and Family Councils” and “Rapid Response Teams” in an efforts to reduce medical mistakes.  Hospitals must reduce rates of hospital-acquired infections to zero.  Medical facilities would have to publicly report “never-events,” notify patients of adverse medical events, and allow apologies to be offered without litigious consequences. 




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