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Governor Baker Takes Strong Stand for Health Care

Governor Baker Takes Strong Stand for Health Care

May 19, 2017

(Photo Credit: Alastair Pike, Office of Governor Charlie Baker)

Governor Charlie Baker sent a strong letter to U.S. Senate leaders today, calling on them to reject the House-passed American Health Care Act, and defending Massachusetts' progress on health coverage made possible by the ACA - or Obamacare.

The letter (read it here) urges the Senate to scrap the massive Medicaid cuts that are the centerpiece of the House bill, and warns that thousands will lose coverage in Massachusetts if it became law. Massachusetts would lose over a billion dollars in federal funding starting in 2020, with losses increasing in following years. He writes, "The recently passed American Health Care Act by the House of Representatives poses a significant threat to Massachusetts, from both fiscal and health care coverage perspectives. ... I urge the Senate not to pass any bill that threatens the loss of existing health care coverage or makes it more unaffordable for Americans."

Governor Baker puts the health coverage expansions pioneered by our state in a broader perspective:

…our state believes strongly in health care coverage. Coverage provides a foundation to tackle underlying complex health care issues such as: affordability; skyrocketing drug costs; the opioid epidemic; historic segregation of behavioral and physical health care; and health disparities.

Among the recommendations Governor Baker made to the Senate were these points:

Medicaid

  • Keep the ACA Medicaid expansion, which covers some 300,000 low-income adults in Massachusetts
  • Oppose the per-capita cap funding formula in the House bill, which would require massive cuts to our MassHealth program
  • Maintain state flexibility for Medicaid "Section 1115" waivers. Massachusetts just began implementing its innovative waiver program which allows for MassHealth ACOs that include a focus on social determinants of health
     

Employers

  • Allow state employer mandates. HCFA supports the legislature's proposal on this, now moving as part of the state's budget process

Insurance

  • Premiums assistance should be based on income, not age. The AHCA transforms the ACA's sliding scale assistance based on income to an age-based formula that ignores the affordability of plans.
  • The legislation should also address soaring drug costs

The Governor also states that, “Finally, Massachusetts has gone on record as opposed to federal sanctions regarding family planning and efforts to diminish support for behavioral health and the opioid epidemic.”

Health Care For All strongly applauds the Governor for taking a strong stand in support of effective health reform.