Thursday, January 28, 2016
BOSTON - Statement From Health Care For All's Executive Director Amy Whitcomb Slemmer Regarding The Governor's FY 2017 Budget Proposal:
"Health Care For All appreciates Governor Baker's budget proposal that preserves and invests in many critical health-related programs.
"We especially applaud the decision to maintain dental benefits for adults in MassHealth. Having access to good oral health care is critical for vulnerable populations in order to prevent health complications.
"We are also pleased that the Governor proposes to keep MassHealth payment rates steady, and even increase some rates for behavioral health and substance abuse services under the MassHealth program. We know that paying fair rates to providers will encourage more to accept MassHealth coverage, increasing access to needed care for patients seeking diagnosis and treatment.
"However, we strongly disagree with the proposal to lock MassHealth members into a specific managed care plan for 12 months. This can have a negative impact on access to care and reduce flexibility to find the network that meets the members' individual needs.
"We oppose his proposal to restrict benefits for some in MassHealth in order to push members into managed care plans. This unnecessarily restricts member choice and may impose barriers to accessing certain benefits and providers.
"We are also deeply concerned about proposed cuts in eligibility for the Health Safety Net program. This increases the risk of medical debt for low- and moderate-income residents who are uninsured or underinsured.
"We are encouraged by the Governor's focus on solutions to family homelessness and support his call to raise the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 50%. This credit provides a valuable increase in a family's income that has been shown to have multiple beneficial impacts, particularly for children. Research has shown that the EITC can be linked to improved child health, better academic performance, and higher income levels as adults.
"We look forward to working with the Baker Administration and the legislature to advance policies and regulations that aim at improving health care access and health outcomes for all Massachusetts residents."