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

Massachusetts Budget

Budget Conference: You Can Close The Bridge, But People Still Need To Cross The River

The House and Senate conferees reported their FY 2011 budget last night (full text; Globe coverage). Facing no good choices, the conference budget makes deep cuts in health programs, along with many other areas of state government we all rely on. The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the budget this afternoon. This post summarizes our initial read of the budget document; we'll update it during the day as we better understand the implications of the budget. [Update - the always authoritative Mass Budget and Policy Center analysis is here, and their health care discussion is here.] Read more »

Another Reason Why National Health Care Reform is Good for Massachusetts

In advance of the BCBS Foundation Forum on Monday on the impact of national reform on Massachusetts, we want to highlight a new report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured that provides another reason why national health care reform will benefit Massachusetts: money. This analysis, prepared by the Urban Institute, estimates how each state will fare fiscally in terms of Medicaid spending under national reform. For most states, the requirement to expand coverage means a modest increase in state expenses. But for Massachusetts and a few other states, the tables are turned.... Read more »

AARP Alert: Seniors’ Prescriptions; MassHealth Dental Benefits at Risk

Deborah Banda, State Director of AARP Massachusetts sent over their latest alert, which we fully endorse: As the Massachusetts Senate begins its debate on the Fiscal Year 2011 state budget, Senators need to hear from you. At risk: Funding that helps seniors afford their prescriptions, and dental health benefits for adults with low-incomes. Whether you rely on these benefits, know someone who does, or feel compelled to speak out for those who most need our help, please call 1-888-259-9789 today. Ask your Senator to restore funding to Prescription Advantage, the state’s pharmacy assistance... Read more »

Senate Begins Budget Debate

The Senate begins debating the FY 2011 budget today, with hundreds of amendments (772, to be precise) to consider. HCFA has worked with Senators on a number of vital amendments to maintain our progress on health care. While state revenues continue to be tight, we know that cutbacks on health programs often lead to higher costs in future years. There are also some opportunities to improve health while raising needed revenue, such as closing the loophole that allows smokeless tobacco and other non-cigarette tobacco products to escape the excise tax increase increase. More broadly, the state... Read more »

Mass Senate Seeks a New Scapegoat

[Our guest post below is by Frank Soults at our HCFA partner, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. The MIRA Coalition will be holding a press conference on Wednesday, May 26, at 9:15 a.m. in State House Room 437, to oppose the anti-immigrant budget amendments] Tomorrow, the State Senate of Massachusetts will consider no fewer than eight budget amendments that sacrifice taxpayers’ money and citizens rights’ in an effort to trap our culture’s latest hobgoblin, the undocumented immigrant who somehow defrauds the government while also hiding from it. Read more »

Senate Unveils Budget

The Senate Ways and Means proposed budget was released on Wednesday. You can read the bill and Committee supporting materials; as always, the instant analysis from the Mass Budget & Policy Center best summarizes the proposal; and here's our statement. Read more »

The Health Case For Why We Should Maintain The Sales Tax on Alcohol

The Campaign for Addiction Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery, a broad coalition of organizations working on substance abuse and related issues, is working hard to urge House members to vote no today on amendment 43, which would repeal last year's statute removing the the sales tax exemption on alcohol. The vote is expected Tuesday morning or early afternoon. Call your Representative now! [UPDATE: The House defeated the amendment on a 67-82 vote. We thank those legislators who supported public health and voted against the amendment.] The campaign has released a detailed fact sheet explaining... Read more »

House Budget Debate – Day 1 “…not terribly pretty”

Around 7:30PM on Monday the House began their week of budget debate. Chairman Murphy began by giving an overview of the budget world. The good news, the nation is on the road to recovery. The bad news, unemployment in the state is still over 9% and the state’s tax receipts are still below expectations. Massachusetts is not out of the woods yet. Chairman Murphy was tasked with filling a $3.2 billion deficit. Luckily, the FY11 budget includes $1.6 billion in federal stimulus money. The HWM budget included $800 million in line item cuts and about $234 million dollars in savings by cutting... Read more »

Hey HCFA - How Do We Pay For Your Amendments? Our Revenue Agenda

In our last blog post, we detailed a number of the budget amendments HCFA supports. Most of the amendments would add spending to the budget. We also support a number of proposals that would add spending that are not being actively considered for next year's budget, like re-integrating legal immigrants into Commonwealth Care, or rebuilding our tobacco control and other public health programs that have been drastically cut over the past 5 years. Which leads to the legitimate question - how can the state afford to increase spending on these health programs? Read more »

House Begins Budget Debate: HCFA’s Amendment Guide

This week the House begins debate on its version of FY 2011 budget (see the just-issued in-depth analysis by the Mass Budget and Policy Center). Representatives have proposed over 800 amendments (full list and summaries), which will be considered over the week. Based on past practices, we expect most of the amendments to be dealt with as part of a consolidated amendment concerning health issues, with a few pulled out for individual debate. The amendments include important proposals to provide adequate resources for vital health programs and maintain critical policy initiatives. Others would... Read more »

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