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Universal Health Care in Massachusetts — Eventually



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Over at Campaign Spot, Jim notes a new survey on access to care in Massachusetts. It ain’t good: The average wait for access to non-emergency care ranges from 24 days for an appointment with a pediatrician to 48 days for an internist, and more than half of primary care physicians are no longer accepting new patients.

Now I see in the Boston Globe that emergency rooms throughout the state are busier too:

When the Massachusetts Legislature made health insurance mandatory five years ago, supporters of the first-in-the-nation law hoped it would keep patients out of hospital emergency rooms.

Patients with insurance, the theory went, would have better access to internists, family practitioners, and pediatricians, lessening their reliance on emergency rooms for routine care.

There is more evidence today that it did not turn out that way.

Three-quarters of Massachusetts emergency room physicians who responded to a survey last month said the number of patients in their ERs climbed in the last year.

They cited ‘’physician shortages’’ along with a growing elderly population as the top two reasons why more patients come to ERs.

The law ‘’didn’t create an infrastructure,’’ said Dr. David John, chief of emergency care at Caritas Carney Hospital in Boston. “Doctors offices are full to capacity.’’

The surveys come just as Vermont, Massachusetts neighbor to the north, is sending a single-payer bill to the governor’s desk. Behold, Vermonters, your future.



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