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Fwd: Group wants health care reform measure off ballot  Michael Eisenscher
 Mar 15, 2000 22:10 PST 
from the Boston Herald, Wednesday March 15, 2000
Group wants health care reform measure off ballot
by Jennifer Heldt Powell

                   A coalition of business leaders and HMOs are gearing up for
                   campaign against a ballot initiative calling for universal
health care
                   and radical changes to managed care.

                   The Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the
                   Association of HMOs and others have formed the Committee for
                   Affordable Health Care Choices to oppose the measure.

                   ``The biggest problem is that it ends managed care as we
know it by
                   allowing members to choose any providers they want,'' said
Rick Lord,
                   president of AIM.

                   Networks are key tools that health maintenance
organizations use to
                   control costs, he said.

                   The ballot measure also would mandate universal health care
                   coverage in Massachusetts by July 1.

                   ``But it doesn't provide any way to fund it,'' Lord said.
                   sounds to us like an empty promise.''

                   Lawmakers could kill the proposal or alter it, but
proponents could still
                   get it on the November ballot by collecting an additional
                   signatures. The group initially collected 71,121 signatures.

                   Proponents said they welcome the input of the business
                   and said the issues raised could be dealt with while the
measure is

                   While the bill doesn't spell out how to pay for universal
                   ``the concern that it will raise costs is invalid,'' said
Paul K. Ling, a
                   psychologist and spokesman for the Coalition for Health
Care, which is
                   pushing the initiative. ``We gave a great deal of thought
to coming
                   up with a ballot initiative that wouldn't break the budget
of the

                   A panel would be set up to develop a funding mechanism,
should the
                   measure pass.

                   A team of health policy researchers at Brandeis University
is reviewing
                   the initiative for the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum.
The study,
                   covering potential costs, is expected to be released in
early April.
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