A Healthy Blog

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

MA Health Reform

I Get Down with the Retailers

Today I traveled to Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle, NH to participate in a panel discussion at the annual conference of the Eastern States Retail Association. Jon Hurst, head of the MA Retailers, invited me. Though Jon and I disagree on loads of things, he’s a first rate advocate for his industry and a terrific guy. And the meeting included reps from key “employer responsibility” battleground states such as Maryland, New York Vermont, Rhode Island and more – about 25 folks in all. Not too shabby a place, and a great schedule for attendees – 3-4 hours of morning meetings followed by... Read more »

7-6-06 Connector Watch: Soft Standards for C-CHIP Plans

The Connector Board has jumped right into work, meeting often, striving to meet their statutory guidelines and showing commitment and engagement from all 10 members. Still, the Board deferred decisions on C-CHIP plan standards to a later date and undetermined process. We fear the Board is giving plans too much leeway, and may not be able to make improvements to plan design before an October 1st start date. The Setting: Today the Connector Board moved into regular meeting place on the 21st floor of One Ashburton Place. The corner view was nice, and the occasional seagull gave a welcome... Read more »

Connector Board Meeting Today + Materials

Link to Final CCHIP Regulations -- click here. ACT!! Connector Board Watch and related materials can be found by clicking here. Reminder: the Connector Board meetings are open to the public and individuals are encouraged to attend. Thursday’s Connector Board meeting starts at 9 a.m. and is in 1 Ashburton Place, 21st Floor, Boston Read more »

MassACT Pulls Plug on 06 Ballot Initiative

Today, the MassACT Coalition announced it will not file the final set of signatures to qualify the MassACT ballot initiative for the November 2006 state ballot. Coalition members collected more than 25,000 of the needed 11,000 signatures to qualify. (138,000 signatures collected, fall and spring, all by volunteers.) The deadline for filing is today at 5pm. The decision was announced at a noon press conference in front of the State House that displayed the final set of signatures. Why? Chiefly, the health reform law passed in April met most major goals of the MassACT campaign - especially... Read more »

Check Out Revamped ACT!! Website

If you're interested in the new Massachusetts health reform law -- enactment, implementation, politics, and more -- there's one essential source, the Affordable Care Today!! website. It's been completely revamped to serve as the best source of information on health reform implementation and a lot else. Affordable Care Today! (or ACT!) was the key coalition pushing for passage of comprehensive health reform. ACT!! is a merger of ACT! and the MassHealth Defense Group. Check out the new site and let us know how we can improve it to make it most useful to you. And happy 4th! Read more »

RomneyRegs: Not Fair and Not Reasonable

We've always known we would have agreements and disagreements with the Romney Administration as they move to implement health reform. Chalk this one up in the Disagreements column. And click here for today's Boston Globe story on this issue, written by the always perceptive Jeff Krasner. Click here to obtain the notice and proposed regulations. Read more »

FY07 Budget Approved by Legislature

The conference committee finished work on the FY 07 budget at 6:30am this morning and rushed it to a vote in both chambers today, where it was approved overwhelmingly. The Governor now has 10 days to submit vetoes, and we expect many. Here is a quick summary of health related items adopted today. Medicare Part D Safety Net Extended!: The budget included extension and clarification of a law that allows Medicare Part D enrollees who also receive MassHealth or Prescription Advantage to receive medications through those programs if Medicare Part D does not work for them. Almost 200 people a day... Read more »

Connector Watch: Meeting 4 – C-CHIP Standards Adopted

The Insurance Connector Board held a special meeting today to adopt emergency regulations creating standards for C-CHIP (subsidized insurance for folks below 300% FPL) products before a July 1st deadline. The Board acted quickly to enact the emergency regs, which mostly codified the proposal discussed last week and deferred discussion of more detailed guidelines until next week, when they will adopt a bulletin to make the guidelines effective. Throughout the meeting Celia Wcislo politely and persistently provided a consumer voice. Although many of her concerns were deferred to later, she... Read more »

Farewell to the MassHealth Defense Group

The MassHealth Defense Group held its final meeting today. The coalition, formed in 2002 in response to cuts to dental and other benefits and the elimination of coverage to 36,000 MassHealth Basic recipients, has been meeting every two weeks since 2002. The coalition is ending its meetings because its goals have been accomplished. At the meeting, we saluted Medicaid Director Beth Waldman for her and her team's outstanding work in implementing health reform. We showed this powerpoint show (click here to view) which includes an overview of all the MassHealth cuts in eligibility and benefits... Read more »

Will CMS Approve Health Reform Waiver by July 1? (Looks like: No)

Medicaid Director Beth Waldman talked today at the MassHealth Defense Group's final meeting (see next post) on progress in getting approval from federal CMS officials for the MassHealth-related aspects of health reform. Beth said CMS approval will not be in place by the July 1 start date requested by Massachusetts. The Commonwealth believes the process is going well and fully expects approval to come within two weeks after July 1, she said. The delay will not impact most MassHealth changes expected on July 1. The expansion of children's eligibility, the restoration of dental, eyeglasses and... Read more »

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