Dukakis on Health Care Reform

By Bob Seay   |   Friday, June 29, 2012
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June 29, 2012

BOSTON — During his two terms as Massachusetts governor, Michael Dukakis had health care reform on his agenda. In fact, in 1988 Dukakis signed into law a health care act that would have forced businesses that didn’t offer their employees health insurance to contribute to a fund to provide such insurance — but Dukakis said his successor William Weld did what he could to stymie the effort.
I sat down with the former governor and presidential candidate at Northeastern University, where he is now distinguished professor of political science. I spoke with him soon after the Supreme Court decision was released — a decision that somewhat vexed Dukakis

Excerpts from the interview

"Well, I'm pleased that the basic core piece of it was upheld. On the other hand, I must say I'm confused about the decision on Medicaid. Congress has regularly required the states to expand Medicaid coverage as a condition for receiving that money ... So what you're going to end up with, I guess, is a kind of pitched battle in conservative legislatures over whether or not they're going to agree to make it possible for working people and their families — up to 133 percent of poverty, which isn't a lot of money — to get decent, affordable health care. And in point of fact that's the whole issue anyway, which I'm sorry to say my party hasn't done a very good job of explaining. This is all about working folks and their families because the overwhelming majority of uninsured people in this country, and it's about 60 million, are working or members of working families ...

"We're finally going to, I hope, move ahead with decent, affordable health care, especially for working families in this country — unless of course Mitt Romney, who's done his 125th 180, in this case on health care — gets elected! If he does, then forget it."

SCOTUSblog's Live Feed of the Affordable Care Act Reactions

Thursday, June 28, 2012
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June 28, 2012

The experts at SCOTUSblog give the blow-by-blow of this morning's decision.

Did you miss the president's speech? Watch it online.

WGBH News Coverage of the Health Care Decision

By WGBH News   |   Wednesday, June 27, 2012
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supreme court 28jun12
Television crews prepare at the Supreme Court early on June 28, 2012. (Scott Hensley/NPR)

June 28, 2012

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in a complex ruling. In March, WGBH News followed the case as it was argued with a full week of oral arguments, analysis and features. Today, we have a full day of coverage to help you make sense of the decision.

> > Read the decision (pdf)
> > Consequences of the ruling: WGBH analysis

89.7, 10 a.m.
NPR special coverage

Diane Rehm Show, 11 a.m.
Susan Dentzer, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs, and an on-air analyst on health issues for PBS NewsHour
Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today
Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at The George Washington University; legal affairs editor at The New Republic

Emily Rooney Show, noon
Jonathan Gruber, MIT economist and one of the chief architects of the Affordable Care Act
Kerry Healey, Lt. Gov. of Massachusetts under Mitt Romney
David Kravitz, former clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor 
Dr. Harry P. Selker, head of the Tufts Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies

Callie Crossley Show, 1 p.m.
Arnie Arnesen, N.H.–based political commentator
Brian Rosman, Health Care for All
Robert Whitcomb, editorial page editor of The Providence Journal

89.7, 7 p.m.
NPR special coverage

Greater Boston, on WGBH 2 at 7 p.m. and from 7:30 p.m. online
Kerry Healey, Republican analyst and former lieutenant governor
Dr. Paula Johnson, chair of the Boston Public Health Commission board
David Kravitz, co-founder of Blue Mass Group
Renée Landers, Suffolk University law professor and WGBH analyst

June 29, Morning Edition
Michael Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts
Renée Landers

All segments subject to change.

Recent stories

> >  Decision might not mean much in Commonwealth
> >  Renée Landers discusses the possible outcomes

On Beacon Hill, a Reaction to Arizona

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Monday, June 25, 2012
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June 25, 2012

BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick — who has advocated for immigrant needs in the past — praised the U.S. Supreme Court for striking down key provisions of Arizona's crackdown on immigrants on June 25. But Patrick wasn't entirely satisfied. He called the Supreme Court ruling a mixed bag.
“Most of the provisions of the Arizona law have been ruled unconstitutional. That sounds right," he said. However, "some of the things that were preserved having to do with the ability to stop and ask questions, you know, you can see how that creates a climate of fear, especially if the Supreme Court has said you can’t actually do anything with that information.”
Patrick has favored expanding immigrant health care options, allowing in-state UMass tuition rates and providing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. But some advocates said he has failed to push immigration issues strongly enough on Beacon Hill.
As he was leaving his office, Patrick got into a heated exchange with students demanding a stronger stance.
“You know you said you were going to do something for us — at least give us licenses. I’m undocumented and I've been here for 8 years, I'm putting myself through school right now, I'm paying out-of-state [tuition]," one woman said.
"And I can’t do what the federal government won’t let me do," Patrick responded. "I tried to do that. But there's a federal law that prohibits it."
"We can’t just live in the shadows!" she said.
"I understand that! I’m on your side," Patrick said. "I’ve said that a million times. These provisions aren’t before me yet. I’ve been as clear as possible, not just with you but with the legislature, that if they come to me, it’s over,“
There are measures pending in the legislature that would require new immigration status checks for employment, state housing and driver's licenses. Patrick said if they get to his desk he’ll oppose them, though he didn’t explicitly promise a veto.

Still Waiting for the Health Care Decision

By Bob Seay   |   Monday, June 25, 2012
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June 25, 2012

The Supreme Court health care ruling is now expected to come down this Thursday, June 28. While we all drum our fingers, law expert Renée Landers reviewed the four possible scenarios and explains the ramifications of each. 

Appeals Court Rejects Key Provisions of DOMA

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Thursday, May 31, 2012
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DOMA plaintiffs
Gay & Lesbian Defenders & Allies at the DOMA arguments. (Mainframe Photographics Inc. & Infinity Portrait Design 2012 for GLAD)

May 31, 2012

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON — In a landmark decision, on May 31 a Boston federal appeals court declared the heart of the Defense of Marriage Act, called DOMA, unconstitutional. The 1996 law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
The three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeals in Boston ruled unanimously that the law unconstitutionally discriminates against same-sex couples. 

The panel included two Republican appointees. It is the first time a federal appeals court has struck down parts of DOMA.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office filed the suit, hailed the decision, saying DOMA damaged Massachusetts families everyday.

“We’re aware of veterans who would not be able to be buried in a veterans cemetery with their loved one, their married partner. They are married under Massachusetts law. But for purposes of federal law they would not be considered married and not be able to be buried together," she said, citing also couples who have not had access to health care, Social Security and other survivor benefits.

Mary Bonauto, the lead attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said the ruling affirmed the constitutional rights of the 17 plaintiffs. "Having worked with these seventeen people for these many years now, and knowing these many burdens DOMA imposes on them, I am thrilled," she said. "And I’m thrilled in part because the court couldn’t be clearer that a big part of its ruling is that these plaintiffs have the right to secure equal protection of the law on the same terms as others. That is the promise of America, and that is the foundation of this decision."
The court did not rule on a more politically explosive provision of DOMA, which says that states without same-sex marriage do not have to recognize same-sex unions performed in states such as Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal. Nevertheless, Coakley called the ruling a big deal, saying, "This is a great day for Massachusetts for civil rights and for all same-sex couples in Massachusetts who are married or who will be.”

But Kris Mineau of the Massachusetts Family Institute said liberal states such as Massachusetts are trying to define marriage for the nation: "This court has the audacity to hold the federal government hostage and demand the government recognize Massachusetts’ radical social experiment and bestow its benefits upon it."

The ruling is now expected to wind up before the Supreme Court. Mineau said he was confident the court will see the "eternal logic" of defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

> > READ: Legal documents from the case

About the Authors
Bob Seay Bob Seay
Bob Seay is the host of NPR's Morning Edition on 89.7FM WGBH Radio. He got his start in radio during college at WMUH, got involved with WGBH TV while in graduate school at Boston University and formerly hosted ME at WRNI in Rhode Island.
The WGBH News team comprises the WGBH radio newsroom, The Callie Crossley Show, The Emily Rooney Show and WGBH Channel 2 reporters and producers from Greater Boston and Basic Black. 
Sarah Birnbaum
Sarah Birnbaum is WGBH News' State House reporter. Send her a news tip.


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