"And you can do so with broad public support," Gruber said. "Based on what we've seen in Massachusetts, people like this."
There are other indications of improving access to care in Massachusetts since the law was approved in 2006.
Residents are more likely to have a place they usually go when they are sick or need advice (up 4.7 percent), more likely to have had a preventive care visit (up 5.9 percent), more likely to have had multiple doctor visits (up 5 percent) and more likely to have had a dental visit (up 5 percent), the Blue Cross Blue Shield report found.
The charge that the 2006 law has been a "budget-buster" in Massachusetts has also been challenged.
A recent study by the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation found that during the five full fiscal years since it was implemented, the law has cost the state an additional $91 million a year after federal reimbursements — well within initial projections.
The idea of exporting Massachusetts' law to the rest of the nation has its critics too.
Josh Archambault, health care policy director for the Pioneer Institute, a conservative-leaning Boston-based think tank, said a narrower approach would be better.
"There are many unintended consequences when Washington tries to design a policy that meets the very different needs of states as diverse as Massachusetts and, say, New Mexico," he said. "We need some specific federal actions to increase access to affordable health care, but the (federal law) went too far."
There's also at least one big cautionary note: Massachusetts still struggles to slow the spiraling cost of health care for residents.
This year both the Massachusetts House and Senate have approved bills aimed at trimming projected health care costs in the state by $150 billion to $160 billion over the next 15 years. A committee is hoping to iron out the differences between the two bills before the end of the formal session July 31.
Gruber said that while expanding coverage is easier than controlling costs, the cost question shouldn't be used as a reason not to expand coverage.
Gruber, who wrote a comic book called "Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works" to help explain the federal law, likened health care expansion to a baby in its crib.
"We're going to have to crawl before we can walk and run," he said. "To say the bill failed (because it didn't include cost controls) is to say we need to keep the baby penned up until it can run."
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