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

MA Health Reform

Next Connector Board Meeting This Thursday

The next meeting of the Connector Board will be this Thursday June 29th from 11:00-1:00. The meeting will be held at the State House, Room 373 Administration and Finance Conference room 2. Read more »

Nothing Done To Us or For Us Without Us

For the second time in less than a year, the Romney Administration is embarking on an initiative to draw consumers into health quality and cost issues -- and leaving consumers out of the process. Background: the National Governors Association recently invited Governors to apply to send teams to a "policy academy" to develop state plans to improve health care quality. The Massachusetts proposal includes about two dozen references to their intention to engage consumers, and lists a team of eight public and private officials that includes, you guessed it, no consumer. Several weeks ago, the... Read more »

Four Upcoming Events

Four upcoming events of note for those interested: First, Wednesday, June 28, 1pm, Grand Staircase in State House -- Affordable Care Today (ACT!) event to recognize key aspects of health reform taking effect on July 1, including MassHealth expansions to kids and other vulnerable groups, and restoration of key benefits to about 650,000 adults such as dental coverage and dentures. Everyone's welcome. Speaker DiMasi is confirmed. Second, Wednesday, July 5, 12 noon, 30 Winter Street, 9th floor -- Press conference to announce final decision on filing of MassACT ballot initiative. Read more »

Connector Watch -- Meeting #3

Yesterday the Connector Board met for the third time in as many weeks. The Board is under the gun to produce standards for products to be offered to the subsidized population, folks below 300% of the federal poverty level, in what is known as C-CHIP (Commonwealth Care Health Insurance Program.) The Health Reform law (Chapter 58) requires the board to release standards by July 1 for enrollment to start October 1. The agenda also included votes on hiring two senior staff, Rosemarie Day and Patrick Holland -- but that wasn't what brought us to the windowless basement of 1 Ashburton Place for... Read more »

Can Anything Be “Fair and Reasonable?”

The Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP) held a consultative session in Boston yesterday on defining which firms will be required to pay the “Fair Share Employer Assessment.” This was the third session they held – the others were in Springfield and the Cape. Commissioner Amy Lischko, Assistant Commissioner Stephen McCabe and General Counsel Nancy Panaro heard testimony from a variety of interested parties. The key issue was the definition of “fair and reasonable.” The statute provides for an assessment of $295 per worker on firms that do not make a "fair and reasonable"... Read more »

Future Meetings of the Insurance Connector

Tomorrow’s (Thursday) Insurance Connector Board Meeting will be held in the basement of 1 Ashburton Place in Boston. All the other board meetings will be held on the 21st floor of 1 Ashburton Place (much nicer view). All meetings will start at 9 am every other Thursday. Tomorrow's meeting is expected to address the benefit design of subsidized insurance plans -- also known as the C-CHIP, or Commonwealth Care Health Insurance Program, plans. Read more »

Health Reform Benefits to Employers -- BBJ

Another interesting health reform piece in the Boston Business Journal, this one an opinion piece by Boston Attorney Morris Robinson. Key quote: "...beginning Jan. 1, 2007, Massachusetts employers must establish health care cafeteria plans for their employees under Section 125 of the U. S. Internal Revenue Code. Cafeteria plans allow employees to choose their own health plans and to pay for their own health care insurance premiums with pretax dollars through payroll deductions. Employees typically do not pay either state or federal income taxes or federal FICA taxes on their health care... Read more »

Boston Business Journal Hits Individual Mandate

Guess not all the business voices in the State are on the same page regarding the individual mandate. Here's an editorial from the June 16 Boston Business Journal: "Massachusetts continues to put more financial pressure on its next generation of workers. The state's new health care law -- unique in the nation -- that will require residents to have health insurance promises to impose a new burden on a small but significant slice of the younger population: those 22 to 35 who are struggling to gain a foothold in the local economy and prefer not to enroll in company plans or simply can't afford... Read more »

Romney Administration Submits Health Reform "Technical Amendments" Language

As we mentioned in an earlier post, the Romney Administration is seeking a substantial number of changes to Chapter 58, the recently enacted health reform law. The Administration describes these changes as "technical." Many are, and many are not. You can be the judge. For the actual language submitted, click here. For the section by section outline, click here. Read more »

MassACT Files 22,000 Signatures for Health Reform

Today, MassACT, a nine member statewide ballot initiative coalition, submitted over 22,000 signatures in support of comprehensive health reform to cities and towns across the Commonwealth for voter verification. MassACT collected over 112,000 signatures last fall qualifying for the ballot. This spring, the campaign mobilized volunteers to collect the additional 11,000 signatures needed for the next step towards November. Read more »


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