March 2015

March 23, 2015

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the ACA.

Conceived out of Massachusetts health reform, the law has been an enormous success nationally. It's also made a huge difference here, with more people being covered with better coverage, due to the ACA's improvements over Massachusetts' reform.

The best piece we've seen so far on taking stock of the ACA at 5 years is this, "Obamacare is 5 years old, and Americans are still worried about death panels," by Vox's Sarah Kliff. The article is based on new polling results, which shows lots of misinformation and myths still present among Republicans, and low information overall. One of the biggest misperceptions is that the costs are going up. In fact,

the CBO overestimated the cost of Obamacare — and by quite a lot. In April 2014, it marked down its Obamacare projection by more than $100 billion. Much of the revision comes down to the fact that health-care costs have grown very slowly during 2009, meaning it's less expensive for the government to help millions of Americans purchase coverage. Just this month, CBO released new projections showing that Obamacare's subsidies would cost 20 percent less over the next decade than initially expected.

The government is now spending less on health care than CBO had projected back in January 2010 — a projection that didn't include any Affordable Care Act spending at all.

A modern birthday is celebrated with infographics, of course. And a video. Here's some celebrating:

 

Five reasons to celebrate

Peace of Mind from Obamacare

UPDATE: One more great White House video:

 

 

March 18, 2015

Join the I MassHealth Campaign!

I Heart MassHealth because it has provided me and my family with continued access to health care

Sharing people’s stories is a compelling way to demonstrate the importance of the MassHealth program and make complex health care policies easier for people to understand and relate to.

Today, we are launching the I Heart MassHealth campaign. We are collecting statements and photos that bring to life why MassHealth is a critical program for the health of millions of the Commonwealth’s residents. Here's what you can do to particpate:

  1. Please download this template to share your story with us and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same. Write in why MassHealth matters to you. Include your first name and hometown for an even more effective message.
     
  2. Take a picture of yourself holding your sign! We will be posting these photos to our Facebook page and sharing them with Twitter. If you are not comfortable showing your identity, feel free to keep your face out of the photo.
     
  3. Email your photo to us at iheartmasshealth@hcfama.org.
     
  4. Invite your friends and colleagues to participate as well.
     
  5. Track the I MassHealth campaign! Look for your picture and learn why MassHealth matters to others by following us on Facebook and Twitter.
     

I Heart MassHealth because they provide services for children with mental health difficulties

Personal stories are the most powerful tool we have in our fight to protect and expand access to quality health care. Thank you for sharing yours.

                - Suzanne Curry

March 13, 2015

To kick off yesterday’s Connector Board meeting, EOHHS Secretary and Connector Board Chair Marylou Sudders introduced two new Connector Board members appointed by Governor Baker. Mark Gaunya replaces George Gonser as the broker representative, while Rina Vertes replaces John Bertko as the actuary representative. Sudders said that the two additional open board positions – the economist and small business representative – will be announced in April.

Louis Gutierrez, the new Executive Director for the Health Connector, shared non-group health and dental plan enrollment numbers. As of March 1st, 124,215 people are enrolled in health coverage aand the Connector continues to see enrollment for April 1st.

Total enrollment thus far includes:

  • 128,000 non-group health plan enrollees, including 91,000 with subsidized coverage
  • 31,104 non-group dental enrollees
  • 479 (109 groups) small group dental enrollees
  • 4,248 (901 groups) small group health plan enrollees

Gutierrez pointed out the significant and growing interest in dental coverage. He also said that the Connector will continue to study how members transitioned and why people did or did not move into new coverage through MassHealth or the Health Connector.

Lastly, Gutierrez announced two new staff:

  • Vicki Coates will start as the Connector’s Chief Operations Officer on March 16th
  • Patricia Wada who replaced Maydad Cohen as the Special Assistant to the Governor for Project Delivery on the Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) project.

Materials from the meeting are here, and our full report is coming up after the break .

March 10, 2015

March 4, 2015

Governor Baker released is first budget proposal today, for Fiscal Year 2016, which starts this July 1. You can read the budget bill and supporting materials here, and see the video of the press briefing.

Like any budget, there's a lot to digest, and we'll have more to say in the coming weeks. Here's our initial statement distributed to the press:

 

Statement from Health Care For All's

Executive Director AMY WHITCOMB SLEMMER
REGARDING THE GOVERNOR'S FY 2016 BUDGET PROPOSAL

 

BOSTON -- "Health Care For All welcomes Governor Baker's budget proposal. In his budget, the Governor maintains the Commonwealth's long-standing commitment to providing access to affordable health care, and we look forward to the proposal's consideration in the coming weeks as it moves to the legislature.

"We are particularly pleased that the budget extends this year's decision to restore MassHealth coverage for full dentures. We continue to call on the legislature to restore full dental benefits for adult MassHealth members. Many benefits were cut in 2010, and only some have been restored so far. Having access to comprehensive oral health is important for everyone and is particularly critical for pregnant women, diabetics, and people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases who are vulnerable to serious dental complications.

"The budget also expands services available to children with autism. This long-overdue coverage will allow families to receive the comprehensive services necessary for an improved quality of life. We applaud the Governor for this investment.

"The Governor's budget assumes significant savings based on the re-evaluation of every MassHealth member's eligibility. Health Care For All will work diligently to ensure that the redetermination process is fair and responsive to the needs of the over one million people who rely on MassHealth for their health care.

"We are encouraged by the initiatives put forth by the Baker administration that address some of the key social determinants of health by investing in economic self-sufficiency. Doubling the funding dedicated to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and initiatives that provide more permanent housing options are critical tools that promote stability for hard-working families. These programs represent the foundation of health vitality and long-term economic opportunity."

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March 2, 2015

Health Care For All is offering free trainings to assisters and groups serving MassHealth and Health Connector members in Massachusetts.

At the sessions, you will learn who needs to take action for their coverage, and how to help MassHealth members complete their renewal forms.

There will be both webinar and in-person trainings. If the trainings below are not good for you, and you would like to host your own training, contact Kate Bicego at kbicego@hcfama.org or 617-275-2912.

The webinars will be on March 6th, 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., and on March 13th, 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. For information or to RSVP, also contact Kate.

The in-person sessions will be:

  • Springfield
    March 20th, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
    Springfield Partners for Community Action (721 State Street)
  • Boston
    March 23rd, 10 a.m. - 11: 30 a.m.
    ABCD (178 Tremont Street, 3rd Floor)
     
  • Fall River
    March 24th, 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.
    SSTAR Family Health Care Center (400 Stanley Street)
  • Pittsfield
    March 25th, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.
    Country Club of Pittsfield (639 South Street)
  • Lowell
    March 27th, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
    Community Teamwork, Inc. (17 Kirk Street)

See this flyer for more details.

NOTE: Updated 3/16/15.