A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

New Pool Regulations: Anger, Advocacy and Amusement

New Pool Regulations: Anger, Advocacy and Amusement

August 10, 2005

Yesterday, about 40 people gathered at HCFA to discuss the new regulations proposed for the Uncompensated Care Pool (for a basic summary, scroll down to the August 2 entry; for more info, check out our pool page here). For a meeting in August, that's a lot.

The participants included people affiliated with hospitals, community health centers, physicians, consumer legal assistance, programs for the homeless, and the mentally ill. There was considerable anger among the group. The consensus among the group was that the new regulations will hurt low income people seeking critical care and shift substantial costs onto providers. The new regulations appear to try to implement parts of the Governor’s health care reform bill, before the bill has even had its hearings. “It’s like putting the cart before the horse,” said one person.

The group committed to an aggressive advocacy campaign with both the legislature and the administration to try to alter or delay the regulations. People interested in participating in the campaign should contact Gretchen Weiss, at weiss@hcfama.org, or 617-275-2916. We are planning a major presence at the September 8 hearing on the proposal.

Also yesterday, we were amused (sort-of) by an information sheet put out by the administration explaining their reasoning behind some of the Pool changes. The administration’s explanation for imposing co-pays on all Pool patients (remember, over 40% of Pool users report having no income) was as follows:

All UCP [Uncompensated Care Pool] co-pays will be higher than
MassHealth co-pays to encourage enrollment into MassHealth.

Hello? You can’t encourage Pool patients to enroll into MassHealth, because by definition Pool patients are ineligible for full MassHealth. That’s why they’re eligible for the Pool in the first place!

We await the administration’s clarification of their thinking.