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

Massachusetts Budget

House Releases Budget Draft

The House Ways and Means Committee released its FY2011 budget recommendations today, the second time around for Chairman Murphy. The House proposal overall makes much deeper cuts than Governor Patrick's proposal, mostly because it does not include any of the revenue proposals forwarded by the Governor. As always, the instant analysis from the Mass Budget and Policy Center provides a solid overview and drill down into the whole budget proposal. Read more »

Way cool budget tool

The Mass Budget and Policy Center has unveiled their new interactive "Budget Browser (browser.massbudget.org). This tool provides state budget information from FY 2001 through this year, updated to include budget proposals for the next fiscal year as they are released by the Governor and the Legislature. It's fully searchable, with modules that let one drill down to compare line items and categories of spending. As the introduction to the site points out, two things make the tool particularly useful for analysis and understanding of state budget numbers: Read more »

Governor Proposes Budget: "fiscal responsibility is not simply about aggregate budget numbers but also the values embedded in our budgets"

Governor Patrick released his H. 2 budget proposal today, for fiscal year 2011, starting July 1. The budget continues the Governor’s strong commitment to health reform and the state’s vital health infrastructure. There are some cuts, including some painful cuts that we will do our best to overturn (there are also some important increases). But given the extraordinarily challenging economic situation, we profoundly appreciate the Governor making health a top priority for his administration. To the extent cuts are proposed, the Governor and EOHHS Secretary Bigby have made clear that these are... Read more »

Values, Leadership -- and Economics

Last week, Governor Patrick showed us why his values and leadership matter. On Monday, he directed state officials to take steps to save the Medical Security Program. On Friday, when the state learned it was receiving an unexpected $82 million tax settlement, he again took action. With the funds, the Governor announced the state was canceling planned cuts in MassHealth, homeless programs, and domestic violence crisis centers. Acting Medicaid Director Terry Dougherty shared the news: Based on this additional revenue, the Governor has instructed the Office of Medicaid to cease implementation of... Read more »

Share the Pain

As we posted last night, we understand the deep fiscal pain the Commonwealth is undergoing. That's why we support looking at balanced revenue approaches, such as closing loopholes in our tax expenditure budget, or rethinking the planned drop in corporate tax rates (details, from Mass Budget and Policy Center). But while revenue proposals are pending, we acknowledge that the pain should not be concentrated in any single area of the budget. That's why we urge the legislature to support what's called "expanded 9C," authorizing the Governor to make budget cuts in areas of government not directly... Read more »

Also On Today's Agenda: Save MSP

Also on today's legislative agenda is the Patrick administration's request for a $30 million stopgap appropriation for the Medical Security Program (MSP). We urge the legislature to approve the funds. The alternative would be loss of coverage to thousands, and the loss of hundreds of millions in federal funds. MSP provides affordable health coverage to 34,000 low-income workers on unemployment assistance. The program, which is funded by dedicated revenue from an employer assessment, will run out of money next month. Because the program receives federal reimbursement under our MassHealth... Read more »

MassHealth Cuts: A Better Way

Wednesday is the last day of formal legislative sessions for the year, and the House and Senate are expected to act on the Patrick administration's request for flexibility to permit a number of reductions in services and increases in copays to MassHealth members. Read more »

"We should be just as concerned about our commitment to our values as we are about the value of our commitments"

Citing a new mantra - “Leadership Through Values” - Governor Patrick announced $352 million in cuts to the FY10 state budget this afternoon. He described how he balanced his constitutional duty with his moral values: “Those values include creating good jobs at good wages, offering a world-class education to our kids, delivering quality, affordable health care to our residents, protecting and supporting the most vulnerable – those are the values to which we as a Commonwealth are committed. So as I meet my statutory responsibility to bring the budget in line, I do so according to my moral... Read more »

EOHHS Announces FY 11 Budget Hearings

The Executive Office of Health & Human Services announced the dates and locations for their FY 2011 budget hearings. The first will be held on Thursday, October 8 in Boston at the Reggie Lewis Center and the second on Friday, October 9 at Holyoke Community College. Secretary JudyAnn Bigby and each of her Assistant Secretaries will listen to approximately four hours of testimony each day. Oral testimony is limited to two minutes and written testimony is highly encouraged. Health Care For All and a number of our partners and coalitions will be testifying on the critical needs funded by... Read more »

A Sweet Tax Idea

As we get closer to the October 15 deadline for the possibility of another round of mid-year "9C" budget cuts, which could further reduce health programs, a new study should resurrect an important revenue proposal made by Governor Patrick earlier this year. The study in the New England Journal of Medicine looks at the health and fiscal benefits of imposing an excise tax on sweetened sodas and other beverages. Earlier, the Governor proposed eliminating the sales tax exemption on candy and sweetened soda. This change would generate approximately $55 million in revenue, which would be earmarked... Read more »

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