From the very beginning of Cape Air, the company Dan started 25 years ago, access to health care has been a benefit offered to all employees. That’s because it is the right thing to do, because health care insurance is essential, because the system we work within connects health care to employment, and because Cape Air has always wanted to attract the best possible people to build the best possible company.
Health care coverage has always been challenging, but today the expense and complexity has become untenable. Employers know all too well that insurance costs stifle growth and are unpredictable. Employees know all to well that at the most stressful times in their lives, when sickness strikes, they are often forced to confront a demoralizing morass of rules, regulations, and paperwork to get the coverage they deserve. Financially as well as emotional, the toll is much too high; roughly 20 percent of Americans seeking financial counseling in recent years cite medical debt as their reason for a bankruptcy filing.
Since the Massachusetts version of the Affordable Care Act passed in 2006, our state has seen dramatic improvements. Health care premiums have stopped skyrocketing. More than 95 percent of our state’s citizens now have insurance. When Dan was asked to testify in Washington before a Congressional committee on the potential impact of “Obamacare” for businesses around the nation, he was able to offer compelling, hands-on proof that the Massachusetts version did not inhibit businesses, increase unemployment, or drive prices higher. On the contrary.
Now that our citizens have health care coverage, the next big steps are to drive prices down and simplify the process while maintaining high-quality care. We are moving in those directions with more landmark legislation passed last session, with Dan’s support.
As an entrepreneur, Dan understands the strengths and advantages of a healthy private sector that delivers expert care. This system remains the heart of our health care future. He also supports legislation that would establish a commission to study the merits of creating a single-payer health care administration system in our state, and believes that this idea has strong merit.
Even bigger picture, here is the essential point:
We need to decouple health care from employment.
Free businesses from the expense and administration of health care, the biggest single obstacle to job growth and profitability. Allow employees to move freely from opportunity to opportunity without fear of losing benefits or getting mired in complex bureaucracy. Remove this shackle and Massachusetts will attract companies from around the world who will see great opportunity in our workforce, our enlightened social policies, and our supportive business climate.
Perhaps we can lead the nation in yet another way: Let’s consider whether Massachusetts should contract with an existing federal agency like Medicare to administer a statewide health insurance plan, avoiding state bureaucracy, offering an example for other states to follow, establishing yet another precedent and reform on the road toward single payer health insurance for all.