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

MA Health Reform

MA Health Reform and "Technical Corrections"

For about two months now, word has been that the Romney Administration would propose a legislative set of "technical corrections" to Chapter 58, the new MA health reform law. Then word spread they would not file corrective legislation -- and would informally submit suggested changes to key legislators to slip into a budget or other vehicle to avoid a public hearing and public process. Administration officials gave their list to legislators about two weeks ago and legislators are waiting for full text. In our never-ending effort to help the Romney Adminstration live up to their goal of "... Read more »

Implementation Plan Provides Peek Under the Hood

From Brian Rosman: The Administration filed its first health reform implementation update with the legislature today. You can download and read it here. The report includes a good summary of the provisions of Chapter 58, the health reform statute. The chart on pages 27-28 lists 90 separate implementation projects being tracked by the administration’s inter-agency management committee. An early task of this committee is to develop a list of “technical corrections” to the statute to submit to the legislature. The report lists a number of these proposed changes, and we understand some have... Read more »

2nd Connector Board Meeting - Some Progress on Transparency and Public Input

From Melissa Shannon: The Board of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector met for the 2nd time today to discuss administrative. The only possibly controversial item on the agenda was Jon Kingsdale’s contract, which leaves very little grounds on which to fire him. Board member Celia Wcislo said she’d die to have the language Kingsdale got in any of her union contracts, and apparently the Attorney General’s office raised some concerns in a separate call to Board Chair Trimarco, but no one wanted to waste much time and energy on what was essentially a done deal, when there are so many... Read more »

ACT Coalition Releases Affordability Principles

At the first meeting this past week of the Board of the "Insurance Connector," Board member Chip Joffe Halpern distributed Affordability Principles that have been developed by the ACT Coalition's working group on Affordability. Click here to obtain them from on the ACT website. Here they are. Truly Affordable: Principles of Fairness for the Implementation of the Individual Health Insurance Mandate The 2006 health care reform law aims to provide health coverage to almost all residents of Massachusetts through a combination of MassHealth expansions, subsidized private insurance programs, and... Read more »

The First Connector Meeting

By HCFA's Melissa Shannon: The Romney Folks Tried to Own the Day, but the Consumer and Labor Reps Weren’t Giving it Away. There was a lot of process, and not much substance in today’s three hour meeting of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Board. It was worth the trip in the rain to get a feeling for how things started. Some interesting things about the setting: Read more »

Libertarians & Lefties (sort of) Debate MA Health Reform

An engaging and provocative forum, hosted last week by the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington DC, is well worth a listen or a read. Click here to obtain either. Speakers included: Len Nichols, director, Health Policy Program, New America Foundation Ron Pollack, executive director, Families USA Arnold Kling, adjunct scholar, Cato Institute Michael Tanner, director, Health and Welfare Studies, Cato Institute Read more »

Your Government at Work -- Transparency in Action

You read it here first: The first meeting of the new Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Insurance Connector -- the pivotal new agency charged with implementing key parts of Chapter 58, the new Health Reform Law -- will take place on Wednesday morning, June 7th at 9 a.m. It will be held in the State House, Room 373, Conference Room 2. Hmmmm. Seems like they're not expecting to see much of the public as they gather together. Read more »

The New Health Reform Wave V: Today's WSJ

Good article in today's Wall Street Journal on how the MA health reform law has inspired coverage expansion activities in a host of other states. Excerpts below: Massachusetts' new health-insurance law is drawing attention from politicians in other states seeking to reduce the number of uninsured without waiting for a divided Congress to act. Officials in New York, Wisconsin, Washington and other states say they are inspired by the bipartisan nature of the Massachusetts law, which was forged over three years by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney and a Democratic legislature with backing from... Read more »

Connector Completed

This morning the Administration and Finance Secretary Tom Trimarco announced the Romney administration's appointments to the "Connector," the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, tasked with much of the decisions and implementation for health reform. (read their press release) As rumored, the Executive Director will be Jon Kingsdale, senior vice-president of Tufts Associated Health Plans. The Boston Globe had reported last week that he would be named. Read more »

Senate Overrides Veto #7: "...my good Lord you just rave about Bill Clinton..."

This afternoon, the State Senate override the second to last of Gov. Romney's eight vetoes of section of the MA Health Reform Law (Chapter 58); the House has already overridden all eight. This one restores MassHealth coverage for low income elderly and disabled LEGAL immigrants. Minority Leader Sen. Brian Lees has been holding up consideration of the override for some time. Senate vote to override 34-5. Done deal. Here's the State House News account of the debate -- Sen. Travaglini asked if there was objection to taking up the vetoed Section 27 of the health care bill. There was no objection... Read more »

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