Health Panel Brings Out Big Guns

November 19, 2010

Massachusetts' health insurance connector -- the highly touted agency that aims to bring cheap medical care to the masses -- has turned into a legal pit bull by aggressively going after a growing number of Bay Staters who say they can't afford mandated insurance -- or the penalties imposed for not having it, says the Boston Herald.

  • The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority is cracking down on more than 3,000 residents who are fighting state fines, and has even hired a private law firm to force the health insurance scofflaws to pay penalties of up to $2,000 a year.
  • All told, more than 7,700 people have appealed state fines for not having health insurance.
  • The agency has hired several private attorneys at $50 an hour to hear many of the appeals, and some 3,150 of them have been denied -- and the losers told to pay up.
  • The connector has also hired the Hub law firm Bowman & Penski -- at $125 an hour -- to defend itself against 13 lawsuits filed by fed-up taxpayers who insist they can't afford state required insurance premiums or the escalating fines.

National watchdogs say the Bay State's battles with cash-strapped taxpayers foreshadow troubles on the horizon for the Obama administration's health care plan.

"Every problem that Massachusetts is running into right now, the federal government will confront in 2014," says Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

Cannon predicts that more and more put-upon taxpayers will resist the law because insurance premiums will continue to skyrocket while incomes remain flat, says the Herald.

Source: Christine McConville, "Health Panel Brings Out Big Guns," Boston Herald, November 17, 2010.

 

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