The people of Massachusetts do not expect that the national reform law will do much to lower costs in the state. They do, however, want the state to do something. About three quarters of the respondents said it was very important for the state to take major action. The survey did not ask what actions, because researchers feared that the public didn’t know about the various proposals on the table. Such remedies as global budgets and accountable care organizations are so much gobbledygook to ordinary folks that researchers believed their answers would not yield much useful information.

So goes Massachusetts, so goes the nation when it comes to health care. Journos covering presidential politics need to think about the lessons from the Bay State whenever the political discourse between Romney and Obama dissolves into a pissing contest over who is responsible for the kind of reform in Massachusetts that became the model for the national law. The point is health reform is the law of the land and has been law in Massachusetts for nearly six years. What works and does not work in Massachusetts is the discussion the public needs to hear.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.