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

MassHealth/Medicaid

MassHealth Recognized For Reducing Paperwork Burden to Keep Kids Enrolled

The Maximizing Enrollment for Kids program works with states to encourage the enrollment and retention of eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP and establish and promote best practices among 8 states, including Massachusetts. The program, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is directed by the National Academy for State Health Policy. Read more »

Governor Signs Supp Budget, Delaying Closing of Individual Enrollment; Funding MassHealth, Academic Detailing and more

This afternoon Governor Patrick signed the supplemental budget bill that had been held up for several weeks. The law includes several outside sections that alter the implementation dates of this summer's Chapter 288 - the small business cost containment bill. The biggest change for consumers is in the open enrollment provisions. As we discussed here, this provision changes the rules for our insurance market. Under chapter 288, individuals can no longer purchase coverage continuously, but are restricted to two open enrollment periods for 2011: January 1-February 15 and July 1-August 15. Read more »

URGENT FMAP ALERT! SENATE VOTING TODAY THIS WEEK!

The Senate will be making another attempt to extend enhanced FMAP (federal Medicaid reimbursement; background) on Monday (UPDATE: see below). The additional funds are critical for Massachusetts. Among the many programs dependent on FMAP is coverage for legal immigrants. Without these funds, we know additional cuts will need to be made to state health programs. Senator Scott Brown is a critical swing vote. Please contact Senator Brown today to urge him to stand for the Commonwealth by supporting the FMAP extension. Monday evening UPDATE: The vote has been postponed to later this week. Please... Read more »

What do other 33 states have for children that Massachusetts does not?

Justin is a six year old boy with asthma. He stays healthy and out of the hospital as long as he takes his medications. One morning, Justin’s mom called the Health Care For All's HelpLine in a panic. She went to refill her son’s prescriptions and was told she would have to pay out-of-pocket because her son’s MassHealth coverage was shut off. The medications would cost hundreds of dollars that she did not have. The HCFA HelpLine helped her to reinstate her coverage that was terminated due to a small fluctuation in her income. But it was too late; in the interim Justin had an asthma attack and... Read more »

Too Much For One Blog Post? We Think Not

There’s so much health policy news today, that we’re tempted to post 6 different items. They’re all important. But rather than overwhelm, we’ll try some brief-ish summaries of a bunch of things that all exploded today. We apologize for the length, but how else can we be your source of The Ultimate Massachusetts Health Care Insider InformationTM without all this? So click on for our take today on the budget vetoes, immigrant coverage, insurance gaming study, hospital use, employers who don't provide coverage, waiver renewal and more. Read more »

Senator Brown Votes No Again; Rally Monday To Let Him Know What Massachusetts Thinks

This evening the US Senate voted yet again to try to end the Republican filibuster on a jobs package that included extending enhanced FMAP - federal Medicaid reimbursements - to Massachusetts and other states. The Senate leadership had slimmed down the package, reducing the aid that would come to Massachusetts, and so reducing the cost (and effectiveness) of the bill. Again, Senator Brown voted no. While a strong majority - 57 Senators - voted yes, this was not the 60 votes needed to allow the issue to come to a vote. Today's budget laid out starkly what will happen in Massachusetts without... Read more »

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 »

Two Quick Calls to Make on Friday

Happy Bunker Hill Day. To commemorate the day, we ask everyone to make two phone calls to support crucial health programs throughout the state. Read more »

Action Needed Now On Anti-Immigrant Budget Provisions

[This guest post comes from Vicky Pulos of Mass Law Reform Institute, and Nicole Tambouret of Mass Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. Both organizations are leading the effort to protect rights and opportunities for newcomers in Massachusetts.] In the final days of the state budget-setting process, the conference committee must decide between two approaches to state involvement in immigration enforcement – study the costs and benefits before enacting legislation (House Section 55) or go forward with an Arizona-lite package of amendments without examining the consequences (Senate... Read more »

SOS (Save our State) - Call Scott Brown Right Away

The Senate is poised to vote in the next day or so on a critical issue for Massachusetts: "FMAP." FMAP (stands for Federal Medical Assistance Percentage) is the federal reimbursement rate we get for Medicaid spending, including MassHealth benefits, Commonwealth Care, the Health Safety Net, and several other programs. Read more »

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