A Healthy Blog

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

MA Health Reform

Globe Letter Slams Connector Premium Increases

Our friend Vicky Pulos, attorney and advocate at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, has a blistering letter in today's Boston Globe, objecting to the reasoning used by the Connector in suddenly raising subsidized ConnectorCare premiums (see our post for background). Here it is: A safety net frays as Mass. health plan premiums spike Read more »

We're Still Number One, as always - New Census Data on Uninsured

Today the federal Census Bureau released its annual statiscal report on “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015” (link). This is their annual survey based on the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey. And so, it's time for our annual blog post (e.g, 2014, 2010, and 2009) on the continuing progress Massachusetts in making in expanding health coverage. First, the encouraging national headlines: Read more »

Health Connector Discusses modifications in ConnectorCare premiums

On Thursday, the Health Connector Board met to award the final Seal of Approval (SoA) for plans to be sold through the Health Connector in 2017. This included a review of premium changes in the ConnectorCare program and plans for member communication and outreach for open enrollment. The meeting sparked big headlines, including the lead story in the Boston Globe (see below). Materials from the meeting can be found here. Read more »

Cool Infographic on Promoting High-Value Care

When high-value care is delivered effectively, everybody wins. Patients experience better health outcomes, payers save money in the long run, and providers are better able to care for their patients. But the system needs to help patients focus on high-value care. At HCFA, we are committed to breaking down barriers to high-value care. Our "No Co-Pay bill" would eliminate cost-sharing for high-value preventive care, like asthma inhalers or hypertension drugs. The Health Connector's decision last month to eliminate copays for medication-assisted treatment for addiction reflected a similar... Read more »

HCFA Organizes Comments To MassHealth on Waiver Proposal

In mid-June, MassHealth took another step towards payment and care delivery systems reforms with the release of their 1115 waiver proposal (background: section 1115 of the Social Security Act allows the federal government to authorize state demonstration projects to improve Medicaid). Through the 1115 waiver, MassHealth is requesting authority from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to restructure MassHealth care delivery through implementation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and expand substance use disorders services. Read more »

Senate Delays Health Safety Net Cuts

Good news!  Last night (Tuesday May 24), the State Senate approved an amendment to delay planned eligibility cuts in the Health Safety Net program. The amendment was a top priority of HCFA and the ACT!! Coalition (see this ACT!! fact sheet for more information). The Health Safety Net (HSN) reimburses hospitals and community health centers for providing care to low-income uninsured and underinsured Massachusetts residents. The Baker administartion recently approved regulations that would cut eligibility for the program by : Read more »

HCFA Statement on Senate Budget proposal

The Massachusetts State Senate released its proposed state budget on May 17. The budget's theme is "Investing for a resilient Commonwealth," and there are a number of bold, creative initiatives, particularly around children's programs,  In response, HCFA released the statement below. The budget debate begins in the Senate on Tuesday, May 24. HCFA will be working with Senators on a number of amendments to strengthen health care for Massachusetts.   Read more »

House Budget An Opportunity To Improve Health in Massachusetts

Last week, the state House of Representatives unveiled their draft proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 (which begins this July 1). Like the Governor's proposal, the House budget proposes spending just under $40 billion, with about $15.4 billion going to MassHealth, a increase of below 5% (note that in figuring the cost to the state for MassHealth, one needs to subtract from the $15.4 million appropriation the some $7 billion in federal Medicaid revenue that we receive as a result of our MassHealth program). The budget proposes no major cuts in eligibility or benefits for MassHealth, though... Read more »

More on the Tenth (Tin?) Anniversary of Health Reform

According to the leading crowd-sourced online encyclopedia, the traditional gift for a tenth anniversary is tin. So here's a brief bulletin on how folks marked the tenth anniversary of Governor Romney's signing of Chapter 58, the Massachusetts health reform law. WBUR's Martha Bebinger was one of the go-to reporters covering health reform in 2005 and 2006. Today, she produced a 6-minute report on people's reactions to the law, talking to ordinary people, including Madelyn Rhenisch, the first enrollee in Commonwealth Care, who calls her insurance coverage "a lifesaver." Read more »

Ten Years of Making History in Health Care

Ten years ago today, April 12, 2006, we all made history in health care. Just look (and you can click on the picture for the video): Read more »

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