Law School Presents Health Care Reform Conference

11/20/2008

As Sen. Edward M. Kennedy returns to Washington to tackle national health care reform and President-elect Barack Obama sets his agenda, Suffolk University Law School’s Advanced Legal Studies program presents a daylong conference on health care reform on Friday, Nov. 21, 2008.

Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, will be the keynote speaker at the conference, “Massachusetts as a Laboratory for Improving Access and Increasing Affordability.

The health care conference is sponsored by the Law School’s Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service, the Health and Biomedical Law Concentration, and Health Law Advocates. It will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, at Suffolk University Law School, 120 Tremont St., Boston.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Issues regarding implementation
  • Thorny issues surrounding compliance with the state’s health reform law
  • The future of health reform nationally and in the states
  • Impact on delivery of services – racial and ethnic disparities

When Massachusetts enacted An Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care in April 2006, it undertook a comprehensive and visible effort to reform health insurance and health care practices. By requiring every Massachusetts resident to obtain health insurance coverage or its equivalent by July 1, 2007, the commonwealth hoped to eliminate lack of insurance as a cause of inadequate health care.

This conference will explore the challenges that confronted Massachusetts in the initial implementation phase of this ambitious health care reform program. In addition, the impact on the private sector—hospitals and other health care providers, insurers, employers, and individuals—will be examined. The conference will consider options for addressing recent concerns for the program, including issues such as the unexpectedly high costs of providing health insurance subsidies for low-income residents and the difficulties encountered in negotiating a renewal of the state’s Medicaid waiver.

The Massachusetts attempt to achieve universal coverage and lower the costs of insurance and care, while improving access and quality, invites the suggestion that the lessons learned can inform efforts in other states and the nation.

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