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The Freeze Is On -- State Closes MassHealth Essential Enrollment

The Freeze Is On -- State Closes MassHealth Essential Enrollment

June 3, 2005

Yesterday, the State Medicaid program informed the Legislature that enrollment will be closed in MassHealth Essential, the program for very low income, long term unemployed persons. Enrollment reached 44,000, and now the state will begin accumulating a waiting list. The Senate budget includes funding to permit 10,000 more enrollees in the next fiscal year, while the House budget would keep the cap at 44,000. The Romney Administration estimates that enrollment could grow by as much as 16,000 for Essential, though the Governor has not asked the Legislature to increase enrollment limits.

Everyone in state government expresses support for enrolling the estimated 106,000 persons who are "eligible and unenrolled" in MassHealth, yet there seems to be little political will to open up enrollment to reach this most needy part of that population. Enrolling these folks also takes financial pressure off the Free Care Pool, and helps the financial status of hospitals.

We'll report regularly as the size of the waiting list grows and grows.