January 13, 2021 – Boston. – “The recently released polling results from MassINC Polling Group reaffirm what Health Care For All has been hearing from community residents and callers on our HelpLine – health care is unaffordable and mental health services are too often inaccessible for many people in the Commonwealth. The two top priorities for Massachusetts residents identified in the poll are both about health care —lowering the cost of care and accessing care. Almost two thirds of respondents said that lowering the cost of health care and increasing access to health care services, including behavioral health, are very important and should be addressed.  

“This data is further evidence that people in the state continue to be concerned about being able to afford and access health care, and they view this as an immediate need that must be addressed. The issue is particularly pressing for communities of color. Nearly three out of four Black and Latino residents surveyed said that health care access and affordability were their top concerns. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare deep and longstanding health inequities. This survey draws a clear picture of the struggles and hard decisions faced by underserved and underrepresented communities in the Commonwealth during these unprecedented times when our health care system has been put to the test. The survey also highlights that health care affordability and access are fundamentally issues of equity and justice. 

“In Massachusetts, we are very fortunate to have access to critical health care data, thanks to the work of the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA). CHIA helps the state track health care costs to make sure they are not growing excessively. In the last two years, while costs have remained below the statewide cost growth benchmark, consumers’ health care costs have grown almost twice as fast. 

“Health Care For All knows that we are not truly controlling health care costs if consumers face disproportionately large increases and financial barriers to accessing needed care. This means policymakers must look at the full range of issues driving these trends, including pharmaceutical costs, insurance costs and hospital costs. As this poll makes clear, this is the time to tackle the issue of health care affordability and find solutions that support individuals and families. HCFA is prioritizing this work in the upcoming legislative session and will collaborate with partners who share these priorities and concerns about the lack of affordable and accessible care during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”