Statement From Health Care For All Executive Director Amy Whitcomb Slemmer Regarding The FY 2016 Senate Budget Proposal

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
BOSTON - Statement from Health Care For All's Executive Director Amy Whitcomb Slemmer regarding the FY 2016 Senate Budget Proposal.   
"Health Care For All (HCFA) appreciates the work of Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka and Senate President Stan Rosenberg in proposing a balanced budget that focuses on directing funding to key programs and services for our communities.


"HCFA is encouraged by the inclusion of full coverage for dentures for MassHealth members. As a result of last year's fiscal process, we are only days away from the date at which consumers will be able to access this crucial service. We know that the lack of functional teeth can become a barrier for individuals to entering the job market or eating nutritional foods.


"However, we are concerned that the fiscal plan does not include restoration of other oral health services for adult MassHealth members that were originally cut in 2010. The elimination of those benefits has been devastating for many Massachusetts residents, especially those living with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension. Further, cutting these benefits delivers anemic fiscal returns, because they also eliminate federal funding. Finally, from a patients' perspective, eliminating oral health services that can be provided in a dental office is short-sighted, as people will present for treatments and care in emergency rooms.  


"We support the proposed investment of $500,000 to protect doctors' access to unbiased information about prescription drugs and treatments. Academic detailing is an evidence-based program to educate doctors about the therapeutic and cost-effective utilization of prescription drugs. Facilitating good clinical decisions results in better quality of care for patients and creates direct and immediate savings for the Commonwealth, including the MassHealth program.


"We are pleased that this fiscal plan provides adequate funding for Massachusetts Child Psychiatric Access Program (MCPAP), which connects pediatricians with behavioral health consultations. This line item includes $500,000 in new funding to expand MCPAP for Moms, which supports women struggling with postpartum depression and other mental health problems.  


"As the voice of health care consumers, HCFA favors the decision made by the Senate to maintain the independence of the Center for Health Information and Analysis and provide for an oversight board. Since its creation in 2012, CHIA has always been able to work free from the influence of political forces as it provides important analysis of health policies and their impact on cost and quality. Consumers must depend on an independent arbitrator of information and data. 


"Health Care For All is looking forward to working closely with the Senate, the House and the Administration to ensure that the residents of the Commonwealth have access to the health care services that they need and deserve."