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The Massachusetts mandate

Later this month, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the individual mandate included in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. If it’s upheld, how will it work? You don’t have to guess entirely, because a very similar plan including an individual mandate was enacted six years ago in Massachusetts under then-governor Mitt Romney – a plan that will survive even if the Supreme Court strikes down the federal bill.

The 2006 Massachusetts law requires individuals and small businesses to have health insurance or pay fines. It expanded insurance plans for low-income workers and children, and set up a new way for individuals to shop for insurance online. Today, 98 percent of Massachusetts’s adults and almost 100 percent of kids are insured, and polls show overwhelming support for the law.

But problems persist. Primary care doctors remain in short supply, and health care costs continue to climb – an issue the entire nation is grappling with. Right now, the Massachusetts legislature is on the verge of passing “health reform, part two” to address the issue of high costs.

Need to Know medical correspondent Emily Senay, M.D. traveled to Massachusetts to see how health reform is working there. She talked to doctors, insurers, politicians, small business owners, and the people most affected by the state legislation – patients in search of affordable care.

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