London to The Boston Globe: Single-payer transformation would be complex in Massachusetts

September 02, 2014

UMass Medical School health policy expert Katharine London, MS, part of the team developing the Vermont single-payer financing model, talked toThe Boston Globe about the complexities of bringing that reform to Massachusetts.

“On the face of it, it feels like the obvious solution, and yet the transformation is really difficult,” said London, MS, principal at the Center for Health Law and Economics, a unit within Commonwealth Medicine. The Center has been working with Vermont on its reform for the past three years.

The Aug. 30 article details gubernatorial candidate Donald Berwick’s desire to adopt single-payer in Massachusetts.

London explained how Massachusetts differs from Vermont, a state which plans to implement single-payer by 2017. Reform, she told the Globe, “would be far more complex here, because we have a multiple of hospital systems and a multiple of insurers and a lot of vested interests in the system the way it is now.”

The article also mentioned a 2013 report, State of Vermont Health Care Financing Plan Beginning Calendar Year 2017, co-authored by London and produced for the Vermont Agency of Administration. In order to fund a single payer system by 2017, the report said that Vermont must develop new financing mechanisms that raise $1.6 billion. That new figure is $285 million less than the $1.9 billion that Vermont employers and individuals currently contribute through their health care premiums.

In addition to London, the UMMS report authors included Michael G. Grenier, MPA; Robert Seifert, MPA; and Thomas Friedman, MPA. Wakely Consulting Group Inc. partnered with the Center to complete the report.

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