Massachusetts is considering a constitutional amendment that would require the state to guarantee all residents access to "comprehensive, affordable, equitably financed" health insurance covering "all medically necessary preventive, acute and chronic healthcare and mental care services." Members of state House and Senate committees on health and insurance began hearing testimony on the proposal Tuesday. The earliest the amendment could be adopted is 2006, since it first must clear the state Legislature in two successive sessions and then be approved by voters. Business leaders oppose the amendment, saying it would be very costly to taxpayers. The Massachusetts Hospital Association isn't taking a position but is concerned the debate will interfere with more incremental and immediate steps to help Massachusetts' estimated 600,000 uninsured residents. "We don't want to give those critical of universal coverage efforts an excuse not to be engaged now," MHA President Ron Hollander said during the Tuesday hearing. -- by Jeff Tieman
Mass. may amend constitution to guarantee care
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