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Massachusetts governor signs mandatory health insurance bill, vetoes some provisions

[JURIST] Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney [official profile] signed a ground-breaking healthcare bill [text as passed; JURIST report] into law Wednesday, under which almost all residents, including the state's 550,000 uninsured, are required to obtain healthcare coverage. Romney also used his line-item veto power [press release], however, to override eight portions of the bill, most notably a controversial provision which would levy a $295 per worker fee on businesses refusing to provide their employees healthcare insurance. Romney deemed this portion to be "unnecessary" and a "counter-productive element of the bill," asserting that employers would pay the fee rather than insure workers. Officials in the heavily-Democratic legislature, the Massachusetts General Court [official website], said they plan to override the governor's changes, arguing that each portion of the bill is crucial to carrying out the government's intentions and goals.

The law is considered revolutionary amid the current national controversy surrounding steadily rising healthcare costs, and Massachusetts is the first state to put such health insurance reforms [IssueSource backgrounder] into place. Maine's health care plan was considerably expanded under a 2003 law [PDF text; overview], but the Maine scheme is based on voluntary compliance. Read Romney's remarks upon signing the bill [DOC]. AP has more. The Boston Globe has local coverage.

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