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

MA Health Reform

Straw Men and Real Arguments

The Connector Board will be deciding on premium levels for the CCHIP program at their September 1 meeting, a week from Friday. The vote was put off at their meeting last week, after some members of the Board raised objections to the compromise proposal reached by the Affordability Committee. Several of the Romney administration members on the Board said that perhaps the proposed premiums seemed too low, particularly for the lowest-income individuals (100%-150% of poverty, or $9,800 to $14,700 annual income). Read more »

Health Reform Running Out of Money? Not So Fast

One of the least coherent health reform strands in the past week has been the expressed concern that health reform will quickly "run out of money" and be forced to cap enrollment in the new subsidized insurance products to be released on October 1 2006 and January 1 2007. Here's Thursday's State House News Service account: Read more »

Unveiled at Last: Who Is Eric Benson?

HCFA has been graced this summer with the most fantastic group of interns ever assembled in one place. Unexpectedly, one has gained notoriety around town, Eric Benson, for his pithy and perceptive blog accounts of board and committee meetings of the Insurance Connector. All around town, people are appreciatively asking us: who is Eric Benson? Since this is Eric's final day at HCFA, we thought we would give him a moment in the sun, via this interview: So Eric, who the heck are you? I’m originally from a small town in rural Michigan. Northern Michigan is a wonderful place, but it is... Read more »

The Connector Slows Down

The Connector Affordability Committee had been rushing ahead, putting in a huge amount of effort to establish premium and cost sharing standards before upcoming deadlines, but today the full Board slammed on the brakes. Everyone expected the Board to review and vote on the Committee’s recommendations today, but instead the Board will review data and vote at its next meeting. However, taking that big issue off the table did not make for a dull meeting. Read more »

MA Health Reform Impact: Check Out Colorado

Wonder if MA health reform has influenced other states? Exhibit A: a Colorado gubernatorial debate on health care. Democrat Bill Ritter and Republican Bob Beauprez show the influence Massachusetts has had. Click here for the full account in the Rocky Mountain News. Some excerpts below: About 770,000 Coloradans are uninsured - 17% of the population. Health insurance premiums are rising at three times the rate of inflation. And Medicaid is the fastest- growing part of the state budget. With the stage set, the Rocky Mountain News asked gubernatorial candidates Bill Ritter and Bob Beauprez... Read more »

Connector Release CCHIP Premium Recommendation

Tomorrow the Connector Board will consider emergency regulations regarding premiums, benefits and cost sharing for Commonwealth Care. If adopted, the draft regulations will be the subject of a public hearing on September 25 (click here for the Connector's schedule through October). Read more »

Quality and Cost Council to Meet

One of the health reform sideshows -- which may be center act in the next legislative session -- was the creation of a Quality and Cost Council to identify health system changes with the potential to lower costs and improve quality, and to develop a consumer quality and cost website. Word arrives today the first meeting of the Q&C Council has been set been set for August 23 from 1-3pm -- location not clear (we'll let you know) at 1 Ashburton Place, 21st floor. These are the members, according to today's Health Reform Update filed by the Romney Administration: Read more »

It's Affordability Week I for Health Reform

Lots of activity coming this week on the issue of affordability for MA health reform and potential enrollees with incomes under 300% of the poverty line ($29K for individual, $60K for family of four). Tomorrow, the Insurance Connector is scheduled to release a draft regulation setting premiums and copayments for policies to be made available to this group. Folks with incomes under 100%fpl will be eligible for coverage with no premiums or deductibles beginning on October 1. Folks between 101 and 300%fpl will be required to pay premiums and higher copayments (no deductibles) and coverage will... Read more »

Affordability Committee Needs to Ask for Directions

The Connector Board’s Affordability Committee met today at UMass Lowell. Unfortunately the new location was hard to find. Two of the three Committee members got lost along the way and had to ask locals for directions. When the meeting got underway, the Committee’s lack of data meant the members were soon lost again as they searched for appropriate levels of benefits, premiums and cost sharing in CCHIP. And this time, there were no locals to ask for directions. Jon Gruber had the quote of the day when he said “we’re making decisions with too little information.” Read more »

Sen. Moore on the "Fair Share" Assessment

RE: Our August 8th post on the dispute over the $295 "fair share employer assessment" and what the Legislature meant by "fair and reasonable." The August 8th Boston Globe reported that House Health Financing Chair Patricia Walrath sent a letter (read it here) to the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy disagreeing with their interpretation that would allow many businesses to escape the minimal assessment. Unbeknown to us, Senate Health Financing Chair Dick Moore sent a letter to DHCFP back on July 3 also disagreeing with their interpretation. Mass. Read more »


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