Senate Delays Health Safety Net Cuts
Good news! Last night (Tuesday May 24), the State Senate approved an amendment to delay planned eligibility cuts in the Health Safety Net program. The amendment was a top priority of HCFA and the ACT!! Coalition (see this ACT!! fact sheet for more information).
The Health Safety Net (HSN) reimburses hospitals and community health centers for providing care to low-income uninsured and underinsured Massachusetts residents. The Baker administartion recently approved regulations that would cut eligibility for the program by :
- imposing substantial deductibles on individuals earning between 150-200% of the federal poverty level ($17,000 - 23,000 per year for an individual);
- reducing the income for overall program eligibility from 400% FPL to 300% FPL; and
- shortening the time period for which HSN will pay for services incurred.
The amendment passed in the Senate last night was sponsored by Senator Jason Lewis of Winchester, who spoke in favor of his proposal. The amendment would postpone the planned cuts until April 1 of next year. The amendment did not include the additional $15 million in state funds for the program also supported by HCFA and ACT!!.
The provision still needs to be approved by the House-Senate budget conference committee, and be approved by the Governor, in order to become law. The House did not include any language on the HSN cuts in its version of the state budget.
Because the regulations are scheduled to take effect on June 1, and the budget will not take effect until July 1, we will be urging the state to hold off on implementing the cuts until after the conference committee concludes.
We thanks everyone who contacted their Senator on this, and will continue to work to support the HSN program.
--- Brian Rosman