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(NECN: Lauren Collins, Boston) - The biggest difference between the Massachusetts and federal laws is one of scale.
"The Massachusetts law is simpler to implement. The federal law is more complicated, requires more checks," Dr. Alan Sager at Boston University's School of Public Health says.
Dr. Sager says those complexities mirror the U.S. health care system as a whole. The law Mitt Romney signed in 2006 offered about four plans; the options available under the Affordable Care Act can range in the hundreds, "each with their own premiums, out of pocket costs, benefits, doctor and hospital networks."
The slow and glitchy start to the overhaul put the nation's top health administrator on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said, "I apologize. I am accountable to you for fixing these problems."
And as President Obama came to Boston to ask for patience, his 2012 opponent was quick to put distance between their visions for reform. Mitt Romney wrote, in part, "...had President Obama actually learned the lessons of Massachusetts health care...the installation of the program would not have been a frustrating embarrassment. Health reform is best crafted by states with bipartisan support and input from its employers, as we did…and by carefully phasing it in to avoid the type of disruptions we are seeing nationally."
Sager agrees Massachusetts' law was a broad, bipartisan effort and the federal plan has forged a bitter divide. But he notes those who are first to criticize Obamacare are the ones who didn't want it at all. The Massachusetts implementation was slow like the federal launch, "and that's common. Things take longer because us health care is so complicated."
But he believes, in the long run, it's well worth the frustration.