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FY 2012 Budget Process Enters Final Stages – HCFA Weighs In

FY 2012 Budget Process Enters Final Stages – HCFA Weighs In

June 3, 2011

With the Senate passing its version of the FY 2012 State Budget last week, we are getting close to the end of a this year's long journey.  Both the House and Senate have named conferees (Senators Brewer, Baddour, and Knapik; Representatives Dempsey, Kulik, and DeMacedo) who will work out differences between the versions passed by both bodies.

Below is a summary of some of the specific issues that HCFA is raising to the conferees.  The Conference Committee budget is expected to be completed and sent to the Governor by the end of the month.

Prescription Drugs

  • Preserve the Senate funding of $93,000 in line item 4510-0716 for the Academic Detailing Program, which provides physicians with independent research and analysis of the effectiveness of prescription medications.
  • Do not include any language weakening the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Gift Ban.  The Gift Ban was a carefully negotiated compromise between the Legislature, the Administration, and stakeholders three years ago, and reduces health care costs by limiting marketing practices that pharmaceutical and medical device companies use to sway physicians.  Any attempt to amend or weaken the Gift Ban would undermine this effort and increase health costs at the very time we are all searching for ways to get these costs under control.
  • Rather than saving consumers money, Prescription Drug Coupons would increase overall premium costs by encouraging the use of name-brand drugs rather than virtually identical generics.  We strongly urge the conferees to not include language in the budget related to Prescription Drug Coupons and instead allow the issue to be dealt with during the normal legislative committee process.

Oral Health

  • Include language in the Senate budget under line item 4000-0300 requiring MassHealth to report the impact of cuts to the MassHealth adult dental program on individuals with developmental disabilities, those living with HIV/AIDS, pregnant women, and medically compromised patients.
  • Include the Senate funding level of $1,413,911 in line item 4512-0500 for the Office of Oral Health.

Health Reform and Commonwealth Care

  • Preserve the Senate funding level of $42 million to fully fund the Commonwealth Care Bridge program for the entirety of FY 2012.  This funding level will ensure that current enrollees can stay on Bridge until they transition back to Commonwealth Care.   On May 6, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that legal immigrants are guaranteed equal protection rights under the Massachusetts Constitution.  The decision in 2009 to remove this population from Commonwealth Care is almost certain to soon be invalidated in the next stage of litigation.  We strongly urge the Legislature to restore eligibility for legal immigrants in Commonwealth Care as soon as possible.

Children’s Health

  • Include the Senate funding level of $31,144,420 for Early Intervention in line item 4513-1020 and the Senate language that will preserve this program as a single delivery system rather than a bifurcated one.

Children’s Mental Health

  • Include the House funding level of $750,000 for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation in line item 3000-6075.
  • Preserve the creation of line item 5042-6000 by the Senate which requires commercial insurance companies to compensate the Commonwealth for their share of utilization of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatric Access Project.
  • Include the Senate funding level of $314,743,708 for the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative in line item 4000-0950.

Public Health

  • Include the higher Senate funding levels for Department of Public Health operations in line item 4510-0100, for Infection Prevention and Control in line item 4570-1502, for the Division of Health Care Quality and the Office of Patient Protection in line item 4510-0710, and the Division of Health Care Quality in line item 4510-0712.

Please call your legislator and ask them to join us in calling for these priorities in the budget.
-Matt Noyes