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Governor Patrick comments on healthcare ruling

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Albany/HV: Governor Patrick comments on healthcare ruling
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By and large, Thursday's Supreme Court ruling won't change much to Massachusetts' state-run universal healthcare system. As our Brandon Walker reports, Governor Deval Patrick and local healthcare advisers agree the decision likely will help the state's push to drive down costs.

MASSACHUSETTS -- How to pay for it remains a central question in opposition to the federal government's healthcare law and one with which leaders in the Bay State continue to grapple.

"A victory for the American people."

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick praising the high court's decision Thursday as one likely to save lives.

"High healthcare cost and inadequate access to care are significant national economic and social challenges in this country. Congress acted in 2009 the same reasons our legislature and Gov. Romney acted in 2006," Patrick said.

The reason? Patrick says it's because health is a public good. Though what may be good for the public comes at a cost for federal and state coffers.

"Change is expensive."

The root of that change, says Bryan Ayars, CEO of Community Health Programs in Berkshire County, is re-distributing coverage costs in order to make sure everyone has insurance. In Massachusetts, that starts at the State House.

Ayars said, "They're doing that by kind of stepping in the middle of the water balloon. Those costs are then going out to the communities to deal with."

Which, if you're Massachusetts, that means you're spending a lot of money to keep insurers happy while providing universal healthcare.

Community Health Partners provides medical care to 14,000 patients. That's 12 percent of the population in Berkshire County. Of that percentage, 40 percent are on Medicaid. Another 10 percent aren't insured.

Costly? Yes. Though, Governor Patrick says it hasn't broken the bank.

"And premiums have stabilized or are going down, not growing," Patrick said.

A downward trend both the governor and Bryan Ayars suspect will continue in light of Thursday's Supreme Court upholding parts of the healthcare law's Medicaid provision.

"We are in an early expansion state as you know and we're expecting further resources from federal government to sustain the experiment here in Massachusetts, so it's good news for us," Patrick said.

Though, Ayars suspects that money won't come in overnight.
Still, resources he says will help along the way for a clinic that adds anywhere from 150 to 200 new patients each month.

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