The Codcast: McDonough weighs in on health care

The health care debate is coming to a head in Washington, where the moment of truth has arrived for Republicans who have vowed for seven years to “repeal and replace” Obamacare the first chance they get. On Beacon Hill, state leaders are wrestling with how to restrain Medicaid costs without cutting people off coverage.

No one understands these issues as well as John McDonough, who joined Bruce Mohl and me for this week’s Codcast. McDonough is a professor at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, but his policy studies today are informed by decades he spent as a policy practitioner.  

He was a state rep on Beacon Hill in the 1980s and ‘90s, serving as health committee chairman during a key expansion of children’s health coverage in Massachusetts. (A book he authored in 2000, Experiencing Politics: A Legislator’s Stories of Government and Health Care, offers a rare insider’s account of how Beacon Hill works.) McDonough had a key role in shaping the 2006 Massachusetts law that became known as Romneycare. He was then recruited to Washington by Sen. Ted Kennedy to help in the crafting of the Affordable Care Act. Kennedy died seven months before the effort he always described as the cause of his lifetime was signed into law with the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

McDonough, who has been a regular contributor to CommonWealth, wrote this piece earlier this week describing the Medicaid reforms Gov. Charlie Baker is proposing. On the Washington showdown, he says the Republican plan is a huge tax cut with health coverage changes wrapped around it. He has some surprisingly tough words for those on the left, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who are suddenly embracing single-payer health care as the right policy — and right politics — for Democrats going forward.  

His knowledge of health care and insights on the current debate are well worth a listen.



Secretary of State William Galvin says he won’t cooperate with President Trump’s voter fraud panel. (CommonWealth) For more on what the voter fraud commission is up to, check this out. (Washington Post)

Lawmakers reach an impasse and blow past a self-imposed deadline to agree on legislation regulating the retail marijuana industry, with a key House leader saying there are no further meetings currently scheduled. (Boston Globe) The Senate did pass a bill that would bar drivers from using hand-held devices behind the wheel. (State House News)

State lawmakers are working to help raise about $2.2 million — including from lots of industries they regulate — to help underwrite the National Conference of State Legislature’s annual meeting taking place in early August in Boston. (Boston Globe)

College Board CEO David Coleman remembers Mitchell Chester, the state education commissioner who died this week. (CommonWealth)


Stoughton’s selectmen spend some time shouting at each other and then vote 3-2 to appoint an interim town manager, even though the current town manager may have not been fired. (The Enterprise) Here’s video of the dustup.

An old mill in Fall River’s North End that houses a drug treatment facility has been ordered closed by city inspectors because of code violations. But a lawyer on the board of the nonprofit posits it might be retaliation for her exposing lavish spending by the city’s since-fired substance abuse grants coordinator who was a friend and mentor to Mayor Jasiel Correia. (Herald News)


President Trump is coming under fire from all sides over his latest tweet, a particularly caustic and personal attack about MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski. (New York Times) Republican elected officials are denouncing the behavior and seem shocked, shocked that a boorish lout occupies the White House and is the titular head of their party. (Boston Globe) Brzezinski and co-host Joe Scarborough pen an op-ed in response, saying Trump’s antics raise doubts about whether he’s fit to be president. (Washington Post)

Senate leaders have added $45 billion in funding for opioid treatment back into the stalled GOP health care overhaul in an attempt to lure recalcitrant moderates on board. (U.S. News & World Report)

The world’s leading thinkers on climate change say the planet could face irreversible temperature changes if emissions don’t start falling by 2020. (Time)


In a no-holds-barred interview with Esquire, former Red Sox right-hander and current internet radio right-winger Curt Schilling says he’s still got his eye on challenging Sen. Elizabeth Warren and then maybe succeed President Trump after he completes his second term.

A Connecticut family that is deep in the trash hauling business has become a big donor to Gov. Charlie Baker — but no one seems to know why. (Boston Globe)

A longtime GOP operative who hinted at ties with fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn allegedly contacted hackers during the presidential campaign to obtain copies of Hillary Clinton’s emails believed to have been stolen by Russian operatives. (Wall Street Journal)


The Baker administration has suspended plans to begin collecting tax on internet sales that was to begin July 1, opting to go through the more laborious regulatory process to start the collections. (State House News Service)

Dorchester Reporter editor Bill Forry says it’s time for some openness and transparency from the Boston Globe about its plans for the Morrissey Boulevard property in Dorchester it is looking to sell. Forry also has intriguing news on the sale of an adjacent parcel by auto dealer honcho Herb Chambers.

Amazon is looking lease 150,000 square feet of space in Boston’s Fort Point Channel area. (Boston Globe)

The proposed Massachusetts “millionaire’s tax” could have an impact on basketball free agency — not to mention family relations — as Utah congressional candidate Tanner Ainge tweeted a story about the constitutional amendment to Utah Jazz superstar Gordon Hayward who is being pursued by the Boston Celtics as a pending free agent. Tanner Ainge is the son of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. (ESPN)

Investigators say they have no answers yet on the cause and circumstances of a fire that gutted a residential development nearing completion across from the Ashmont MBTA station in Dorchester. The developer vows to rebuild the project, which included 51 affordable rental units, 28 market-rate condos, and four affordable condo units. (Boston Globe)

A Florida legal advocacy group is suing Guidestar over being one of 46 nonprofits labeled “hate groups” by the online charity watchdog. (Associated Press)

Ten years ago today, Apple introduced the iPhone, launching a revolution in smartphone technology. (Wall Street Journal)


Peabody reports it earned a $280,000 profit on school choice. (Salem News)

Adjunct instructors at the state’s public colleges and universities press legislators for better pay. (Boston Globe)


Two free weeks of travel on the MBTA’s Fairmount Line increased passenger counts, but only temporarily. (CommonWealth)

A Gloucester Times editorial calls on the MBTA to pause its WiFi commuter rail plan (the one feature more than 300, 75-foot poles) and fully explain it to affected communities.


The debate over gas pipelines in New England is put to rest for now, as the companies behind the Access Northeast proposal put the project on hold indefinitely. Eversource Energy officials had seemed confident in November that they could get the $3 billion project off the ground, despite major legal hurdles. (CommonWealth)

The non-profit Citizens Energy, founded by former congressman Joseph Kennedy, is proposing to build an 18-acre solar array atop the contaminated Nyanza waste dump in Ashland to power homes for low-income residents. (MetroWest Daily News)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has cited the Pilgrim power plant for an undisclosed security violation, which they deemed low-level but too sensitive to publicly reveal. (Cape Cod Times)


A Boston police officer who appears on a video making a racist taunt toward blacks is suspended without pay for six months. (Boston Herald)

The FBI said three people who were running brothels in Boston and on the North and South Shores were making millions of dollars a year from the enterprise. (Patriot Ledger)


Joe Battenfeld offers the skinny on some pretty fat salaries at taxpayer-supported WGBH, which claimed a $38 million loss last year and could face big funding cuts from the Trump administration. The salary information included $624,930 in total compensation last year for CEO Jonathan Abbott and $364,000 for TV and radio host Jim Braude. (Boston Herald)