Families USA Uses AHRQ Data in Report for the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Act

February 2007

A Families USA report, "Proposed Health Reform in Massachusetts: Net Gain for the Business Community," informed enactment of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform bill signed into law in April 2006. The report examined the projected fiscal impact on Bay State businesses and helped to allay legislative concerns about the effects of the bill on employers. Stan Dorn, author of the report, used Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data on the number and size of firms in the state that did and did not offer health insurance coverage to their employees.

Dorn is currently Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute. When he prepared the report, he was Senior Policy Analyst at the Economic and Social Research Institute. In discussing his use of MEPS data for the report, he commended AHRQ for the convenience and user-friendliness of the MEPS database.

The report was issued in January 2006 when the bill was stalled in Conference Committee partly because of concerns about its impact on employers. The House had passed a bill including assessments on businesses having more than 10 employees that did not offer health insurance benefits. The Senate version of the bill did not include this provision, and this difference resulted in an impasse.

The Families USA report contributed to breaking that impasse. It concluded that new costs to employers from the bill (estimated at $175 million to $376 million annually) would be more than offset by the direct annual savings for employers (estimated at between $501 million and $523 million). The new costs would fall on a different group of employers-larger employers that did not furnish health benefits-from those that would realize the savings.

The final bill passed by the legislature included a scaled-down assessment provision. Governor Mitt Romney signed the legislation into law but vetoed the employer assessment provision; the legislature then overrode the veto.

Families USA is a national nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS)
Topics(s): Data
Geographic Location: Massachusetts
Implementer: Families USA
Date: 02/01/2007
Page last reviewed October 2014