A Healthy Blog

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

MA Health Reform

Trimarco Talks: Tobacco and Tickets

On WBUR this morning, reporter Martha Bebinger reported on yesterday’s hearing of the board of the Insurance Connector, and included this section based on an elevator exchange between her and Romney A&F Secretary Thomas Trimarco: “Secretary of Administration and Finance Thomas Trimarco, who chairs the Connector Board, says a sliding scale (of premiums) of three to six percent seems reasonable, especially for residents who could cut back on nonessential items: ‘Do we take into account someone spending at least that much for tobacco use? What is their use of buying lottery tickets? I... Read more »

Back-to-School 2006 Campaign Launches

Back-to-School, a national outreach initiative in late summer and early fall launches this week to help uninsured families whose children may be eligible for public health insurance. The MA campaign is coordinated by the Covering Kids and Families Initiative at HCFA in partnership with Watch Your Mouth, a public awareness campaign for children’s oral health. The partnership promotes the message that healthy children are more successful in school. Back-to-School is crucial because over 54,000 Massachusetts children remain uninsured; every child in the Commonwealth is eligible for some form... Read more »

The Connector Connects with the Public

About 200 persons came to Gardner Auditorium today to testify to the board of the Insurance Connector on benefits and affordability for about 200,000 uninsured persons with income under 300% of the poverty line who will be eligible for coverage on October 1 2006 (under 100%fpl) or January 1 2007 (100-300%fpl). It was a respectful, polite hearing where the board heard concerns about the affordability of premiums and co-payments that folks between 100-300%fpl will have to pay. Eight of ten Connector board members attended including ED Jon Kingsdale. The ACT!! Coalition brought well over half... Read more »

The Connector's Upbeat Outreach Committee Meets

The Connector Board’s Outreach Committee met for the first time this morning. The Committee is taking a different approach than other parts of the Connector by soliciting more direct public input. Members asked the audience for input and will issue a formal request for input. Chairman Chip Joffe-Halpern wants the Committee to be outgoing and upbeat and, so far, has succeeded. The Committee wants to know the population they will serve. Based on a Blue Cross-Blue Shield Foundation survey, the median uninsured person with income below 300% FPL is: 19-34 years old, male, employed, under 200%... Read more »

Fair and Reasonable – and Employer Responsibility

What is “fair and reasonable?” Chapter 58, the Massachusetts health reform law, says employers who do not pay a “fair and reasonable” contribution to their employees’ health insurance coverage must pay an annual assessment of no more than $295 to the state. A state agency, the Division of Healthcare Finance and Policy, is charged with defining “fair and reasonable.” Today, DHCFP held a hearing on its proposed regs to define “F&R.” DHCFP’s view: 1. If 25% of full time workers accept coverage offered by the employer OR 2. If the employer offers to pay 33% of premiums (regardless how... Read more »

Kids at Risk to Fall Between Health Reform Cracks

On the 21st floor of Ashburton Place this morning in a small room boasting a great view of the city, hard-core children’s health access advocates gathered to testify at a Medicaid regulatory hearing about Chapter 58 (Health Reform) changes to the Children’s Medical Security Plan (CMSP) that may leave some kids without health coverage rather than improving access opportunities as the health reform law intended to accomplish. (You can see the draft regs by clicking here.) Read more »

Dutch Treat II: Are We the New Netherlands?

This morning a presentation at the Blue Cross Foundation by economist Piet de Bekker, Policy Advisor for the Directorate of Macro-Economic Affairs and Labor Relations of the Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (yes, sport – can you imagine blaming state government when the Red Sox lose?). An august audience of about 50 including Sen. Dick Moore, MA H&HS Sect. Tim Murphy, Chris Hager and Emily Sherwood from the MA House, David Friedman from the MA Senate, Dem. State Committee Chair Phil Johnston, Partners CEO Jim Mongan, Rosemary Day from the Connector, and a lot more. Nancy... Read more »

Connector Watch August 3rd - Marathon Meetings

Having gotten most of the set-up procedures and get to know you formalities out of the way, the Connector Board is now down the it’s real work, and it’s really hard work. The full board met for 3 ½ hours, followed by a 3 hour meeting of the affordability subcommittee. Yes, this is no business for half-hearted dabblers. Here’s a summary of both meetings for those who couldn’t free up their whole Thursday to be there. Full Board Meeting: There were no official board votes today, but some procedures were agreed to, some decision were made informally and a general consensus surfaced around other... Read more »

Three Month Delay for Part of C-CHIP Coverage

Today's Boston Globe reports that a portion of coverage expansion originally scheduled for October 1 will be postponed until January 1. Click here for article. C-CHIP stands for Commonwealth Care Health Insurance Program. It is the subsidized coverage program for uninsured folks with incomes below 300 percent of the federal poverty line (about $29,000 for an individual and $60,000 for a family of four. For eligible folks with incomes below 100%fpl, C-CHIP coverage will have no premiums or deductibles. For this group, estimated at around 100,000 persons, coverage will become available as... Read more »

More on "Technical" Corrections

The House passed a bill making "technical corrections" to the health reform statute late Thursday. The bill number is H. 5240. The Senate may take the bill up tonight, the last day of formal sessions, or it may consider the bill during the informal sessions that will continue through the rest of the year. The bill is a must-pass, because some of the federal funding associated with health reform depends on some wording changes required in the federal waiver approval. Read more »

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