The Platform of the Massachusetts Democratic
PART III: HEALTH CARE, ACCESS & CHOICE
We believe health care is a right, not a privilege; a necessity, not a luxury.
We pledge ourselves to attaining universal health care coverage for all
families and individuals, and to an initiative which ends racial and ethnic
health disparities in the Commonwealth not later than the year 2010. To
these ends, we favor both fundamental and ongoing reforms that promote access,
control costs, and improve quality. Our Party supports the creation of a
single-payer health care system both in Massachusetts and in the nation
in order to achieve the goal of universal health care. We understand that
other methods are less satisfactory to us, but we remain committed to ensuring
that every man, woman, and child in our state should have access to high
quality health care. We thank our Congressional delegation for their extraordinary
leadership in Washington with respect to all health care issues, and commend
The Legislature for making our state a model of improved coverage for children
and reduced use of tobacco.
Access and Costs.
We are proud that policies endorsed in past Party platforms and adopted
in recent years by the Commonwealth have helped place our state near the
top with respect to share of children and adults covered by health insurance.
We remain committed to extending proper coverage to each of the hundreds
of thousands of residents still uninsured, and to aiding the even greater
number who are underinsured, or at risk of being so. We endorse the HealthNow!
proposal that would build on the success of The Children’s Coverage Initiative
by providing health coverage to tens of thousands of uninsured working adults.
We strongly back efforts in Congress and The Legislature to make prescription
drugs more affordable, including as a benefit of Medicare. We recognize
that comprehensive health care reform is the only way to ensure that health
care for all at an affordable price can truly become a reality.
HMOs and Quality of Care.
We seek to restore balance between individuals and their managed care health
plans, so members can obtain the care they need and doctors are most able
to act in the best interests of their patients. We strongly support the
state’s Patients’ Bill of Rights Act of 2000, which guarantees important
new protections to residents in state-regulated HMO health plans, like a
right to appeal denials of care. We call for vigorous enforcement of all
its provisions, and support parallel national efforts. We endorse state
and federal proposals giving patients the right to sue their HMO. We support
measures to protect the privacy and confidentiality of patient records,
and state involvement in the ongoing effort to eliminate medical errors.
Health Care Economy and Fiscal Stability.
We believe that our state’s worldclass medical care and world renowned teaching
hospitals and universities together with leading edge biotechnology and
medical device industries are critical to our economy as well as the health
of our citizens. We are cognizant of the extreme threat that exists at this
time. We are deeply concerned about the severe financial difficulties facing
our teaching and community hospitals, community health centers, not-for-profit
health plans, extended and home care providers, and other healthrelated
organizations and professionals. Equally, we are alarmed by the harmful
consequences of measures such as reduced staffing levels, uneconomic rates
of compensation, and higher premiums that have been taken in response to
those difficulties. We very strongly support efforts to reverse misguided
reductions under the federal Balanced Budget Act of 1997 which have underfunded
graduate medical education and reimbursements to these facilities. We endorse
the common-sense principle that provider payments from the state and others
must cover costs, and we support increased reimbursements through Medicaid
We strongly endorse the state’s Mental Health Parity Law adopted in 2000,
and know of the extreme difficulty many residents experience in obtaining
adequate, or even any, treatment of mental health conditions. We believe
the state must establish a coordinated program with human service agencies
to address the explosive growth in the mental health needs of children and
adolescents. We believe the amount of mental health benefits generally available
to residents of the Commonwealth is insufficient to meet need. We condemn
the neglectful policies of the Republican Administrations of the past decade
which have resulted in the inability of families to obtain desperately-needed
psychiatric care for loved ones. Our Party supports the full implementation
of mental health policies which will provide emergence care, family support,
and appropriate housing to our citizens with chronic mental health disorders.
We believe medical research, innovation, and education are key strengths
of the Commonwealth. We support expanded National Institutes of Health (NIH)
funding, a strong federal commitment to the life sciences, state-backed
research institutions and incubators, and a climate that fosters private
sector innovations. We believe new treatments can produce improved quality
of life and substantial cost savings by reducing disease and disability
in older Americans. We support the development and coverage of innovative
therapies and medications to assuage pain and improve the quality of life
of those suffering from terminal or debilitating illnesses. We understand
that breakthrough treatments, however exciting, become meaningful only when
made accessible to those in need of them.
Not-for-profit Care and Essential Services.
We seek to protect the Commonwealth’s heritage of not-for-profit medicine
and its inherent commitment to the public interest. We seek vigorous enforcement
of new requirements subjecting proposed takeovers of not-for-profit hospitals
and health plans by for-profit corporations to close public scrutiny. We
believe the state must increase its health planning efforts in all areas,
and we support its right to identify services and providers that are essential
to communities and act to preserve them.
Choice and Reproductive Health Care.
We reaffirm our belief that a woman has the right to choose whether and
when to have a child. We support the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision
as the law of the land and oppose any constitutional amendment, law or regulation
to restrict or overturn that decision. We are alarmed by, and opposed to,
the anti-choice policies of the Bush Administration.
We condemn acts of violence and intimidation which inhibit the rights
of women seeking services. No woman who has chosen to terminate her pregnancy
should be the victim of physical, verbal, or emotional intimidation under
We view the protection and privacy of women seeking abortions as a fundamental
right. We pledge to work for comprehensive, accessible, and non-coercive
reproductive health care policies and services, with a special focus on
the needs of lowincome, rural and young women and families of the Commonwealth.
This includes programs to improve the health and safety of pregnancy and
childbirth, adequate prenatal and pediatric care, affordable adoption
programs, family planning counseling, and accessible contraceptive services,
drugs, and devices. We believe that contraceptive drugs and devices should
be a covered benefit of health insurance plans.
We support policies to discourage smoking, especially among youth, and to
hold the tobacco industry accountable for their actions against public health.
We support increased federal and state excise taxes on tobacco products
and believe that these revenues and national settlement monies are used
most appropriately in support of anti-smoking and health care related efforts.
We renew our call for disclosure requirements for tobacco ingredients, similar
to standards for other consumer products. We support legislation to regulate
smoking in the workplace and all public settings.
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