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Democratic Party Platform

The Platform of the Massachusetts Democratic Party

Health Care.

We believe health care is a right, not a privilege; a necessity, not a luxury. We pledge ourselves to attaining universal health care coverage for all families and individuals, and to an initiative which ends racial and ethnic health disparities in the Commonwealth not later than the year 2010. To these ends, we favor both fundamental and ongoing reforms that promote access, control costs, and improve quality. Our Party supports the creation of a single-payer health care system both in Massachusetts and in the nation in order to achieve the goal of universal health care. We understand that other methods are less satisfactory to us, but we remain committed to ensuring that every man, woman, and child in our state should have access to high quality health care. We thank our Congressional delegation for their extraordinary leadership in Washington with respect to all health care issues, and commend The Legislature for making our state a model of improved coverage for children and reduced use of tobacco.

Access and Costs.

We are proud that policies endorsed in past Party platforms and adopted in recent years by the Commonwealth have helped place our state near the top with respect to share of children and adults covered by health insurance. We remain committed to extending proper coverage to each of the hundreds of thousands of residents still uninsured, and to aiding the even greater number who are underinsured, or at risk of being so. We endorse the HealthNow! proposal that would build on the success of The Children’s Coverage Initiative by providing health coverage to tens of thousands of uninsured working adults. We strongly back efforts in Congress and The Legislature to make prescription drugs more affordable, including as a benefit of Medicare. We recognize that comprehensive health care reform is the only way to ensure that health care for all at an affordable price can truly become a reality.

HMOs and Quality of Care.

We seek to restore balance between individuals and their managed care health plans, so members can obtain the care they need and doctors are most able to act in the best interests of their patients. We strongly support the state’s Patients’ Bill of Rights Act of 2000, which guarantees important new protections to residents in state-regulated HMO health plans, like a right to appeal denials of care. We call for vigorous enforcement of all its provisions, and support parallel national efforts. We endorse state and federal proposals giving patients the right to sue their HMO. We support measures to protect the privacy and confidentiality of patient records, and state involvement in the ongoing effort to eliminate medical errors.

Health Care Economy and Fiscal Stability.

We believe that our state’s worldclass medical care and world renowned teaching hospitals and universities together with leading edge biotechnology and medical device industries are critical to our economy as well as the health of our citizens. We are cognizant of the extreme threat that exists at this time. We are deeply concerned about the severe financial difficulties facing our teaching and community hospitals, community health centers, not-for-profit health plans, extended and home care providers, and other healthrelated organizations and professionals. Equally, we are alarmed by the harmful consequences of measures such as reduced staffing levels, uneconomic rates of compensation, and higher premiums that have been taken in response to those difficulties. We very strongly support efforts to reverse misguided reductions under the federal Balanced Budget Act of 1997 which have underfunded graduate medical education and reimbursements to these facilities. We endorse the common-sense principle that provider payments from the state and others must cover costs, and we support increased reimbursements through Medicaid and Medicare.

Mental Health.

We strongly endorse the state’s Mental Health Parity Law adopted in 2000, and know of the extreme difficulty many residents experience in obtaining adequate, or even any, treatment of mental health conditions. We believe the state must establish a coordinated program with human service agencies to address the explosive growth in the mental health needs of children and adolescents. We believe the amount of mental health benefits generally available to residents of the Commonwealth is insufficient to meet need. We condemn the neglectful policies of the Republican Administrations of the past decade which have resulted in the inability of families to obtain desperately-needed psychiatric care for loved ones. Our Party supports the full implementation of mental health policies which will provide emergence care, family support, and appropriate housing to our citizens with chronic mental health disorders.


We believe medical research, innovation, and education are key strengths of the Commonwealth. We support expanded National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, a strong federal commitment to the life sciences, state-backed research institutions and incubators, and a climate that fosters private sector innovations. We believe new treatments can produce improved quality of life and substantial cost savings by reducing disease and disability in older Americans. We support the development and coverage of innovative therapies and medications to assuage pain and improve the quality of life of those suffering from terminal or debilitating illnesses. We understand that breakthrough treatments, however exciting, become meaningful only when made accessible to those in need of them.

Not-for-profit Care and Essential Services.

We seek to protect the Commonwealth’s heritage of not-for-profit medicine and its inherent commitment to the public interest. We seek vigorous enforcement of new requirements subjecting proposed takeovers of not-for-profit hospitals and health plans by for-profit corporations to close public scrutiny. We believe the state must increase its health planning efforts in all areas, and we support its right to identify services and providers that are essential to communities and act to preserve them.

Choice and Reproductive Health Care.

We reaffirm our belief that a woman has the right to choose whether and when to have a child. We support the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision as the law of the land and oppose any constitutional amendment, law or regulation to restrict or overturn that decision. We are alarmed by, and opposed to, the anti-choice policies of the Bush Administration.

We condemn acts of violence and intimidation which inhibit the rights of women seeking services. No woman who has chosen to terminate her pregnancy should be the victim of physical, verbal, or emotional intimidation under any circumstances.

We view the protection and privacy of women seeking abortions as a fundamental right. We pledge to work for comprehensive, accessible, and non-coercive reproductive health care policies and services, with a special focus on the needs of lowincome, rural and young women and families of the Commonwealth. This includes programs to improve the health and safety of pregnancy and childbirth, adequate prenatal and pediatric care, affordable adoption programs, family planning counseling, and accessible contraceptive services, drugs, and devices. We believe that contraceptive drugs and devices should be a covered benefit of health insurance plans.


We support policies to discourage smoking, especially among youth, and to hold the tobacco industry accountable for their actions against public health. We support increased federal and state excise taxes on tobacco products and believe that these revenues and national settlement monies are used most appropriately in support of anti-smoking and health care related efforts. We renew our call for disclosure requirements for tobacco ingredients, similar to standards for other consumer products. We support legislation to regulate smoking in the workplace and all public settings.

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