The approach that Massachusetts takes to key employer issues such as health care and energy will depend heavily on decisions that will be made during the next several months by the Trump Administration, Attorney General Maura Healey said this morning.
The good news, Healey told several hundred business leaders at the AIM Executive Forum, is that Massachusetts is prepared for such uncertainty because of the collaborative policy work that has been done by several governors, the legislature, the attorney general’s office and the private sector.
She pointed to the fact that Massachusetts has its own health-care reform law that will remain even if President Trump and Congress change some or all of the Affordable Care Act. She also noted that the Legislature passed a wide-ranging energy bill earlier this year to diversify the commonwealth’s energy supply.
“I would love to have the Massachusetts way to be the American way,” Healey said.
The attorney general opened her remarks with several observations on the presidential election and her decision to establish a hotline for people to report incidents of bias or harassment. She reported that more than 200 people from all sides of the political spectrum have called the hotline in the past two days.
“It sends a message that we know the difference between right and wrong,” Healey said.
She acknowledged that the degree to which the Trump Administration changes Medicaid funding levels - and potentially shifts that funding to block grants - will have a significant effect on the Massachusetts health-care system. The attorney general’s office has issues multiple reports looking at rising health-care costs in Massachusetts and methods to improve the market.
“Regardless of federal changes, the legal framework Massachusetts put in place under Governor Romney, that served as the model for the ACA, remains. So, in key ways, I believe we are strongly positioned to keep our health care systems running smoothly. But we need everyone at the table and working together.
“While we get ready to respond to changes at the federal level, we will continue to work on our affordability agenda here at the state level. And there’s plenty to do on this front.”
Energy policy will also depend on the direction of a president who campaigned on the need to exploit coal and other traditional fuels to control the cost of electricity. Healey said the new Massachusetts energy law commits the commonwealth to diversifying its energy portfolio through a competitive market.
“I believe diversification of our energy sources is critical,” she said.
“The role for my office is to make sure that we have a competitive, transparent process that results in cost-effective contracts and minimize customer risk.”
Healey said the trend of collaboration between employers and her office continued earlier this year with passage of the nation’s first pay-equity law. AIM worked with Healey and legislative leaders on a compromise bill that ensures fair compensation for all workers while allowing employers to attract and retain skilled employees.