A Healthy Blog

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


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 »

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 »

We Can Still Save MassHealth Dental!

Out of all the MassHealth benefits, dental is the most universal; it provides vital health coverage to nearly 700,000 people in Massachusetts. The Governor and the House have proposed huge cuts to the MassHealth adult dental program, eliminating fillings, treatment for gum disease, and dentures. Without dentures, tens of thousands of low-income seniors will not be able to eat the foods they need to stay healthy. Without fillings, dental decay cannot be stopped from spreading throughout the body. If these cuts are sustained by the Senate, the only remaining coverage would be check-ups,... Read more »

Churn Churn Churn (to everything there is coverage)

Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute released a superb report, “Enrollment and Disenrollment in MassHealth and Commonwealth Care.” Bob Seifert, from the UMass Center for Health Law and Economics is the lead author. Bob's Commonhealth blog post does a good job of summarizing, as does the report’s executive summary. Bottom line: "A sizable number of people are unable to maintain their coverage over a period of time, despite remaining eligible for the program....The consequences for those who encounter even a temporary loss of their health insurance coverage are... Read more »

MassHealth Makes it Easier To Stay Covered

Beginning later this week, MassHealth will begin a simplified redetermination process for some members in nursing facilities. This new method will affect over 11,000 MassHealth members that will no longer need to proactively send paperwork to MassHealth. Instead, they will only need to return forms if something has changed in their situation that would affect their eligibility for coverage. Every year thousands of Medicaid recipients lose their health insurance due to eligibility redeterminations. HCFA HelpLine counselors often hear from people that can’t access the health care that they... Read more »

National Patient Safety Week - Join Us Tomorrow

This is National Patient Safety Week, being observed by health care providers, advocates, and others across the country. To mark the week, Rosemary Gibson, an expert on health care quality issues, is speaking tomorrow (Tuesday, March 9) at HCFA on her new book, “The Treatment Trap,” which looks at overuse of medical care and the impact on consumers and on the health care system. Read an interview with Ms. Gibson in today’s Boston Globe. Tomorrow’s talk is 12-1pm at HCFA, 30 Winter Street, Boston, 9th floor. E-mail Deb Wachenheim to RSVP. Read more »

State Seeks Additional Hospital Waiver Funds From Feds

Remember the MassHealth waiver? Didn't think so. After refreshing your knowledge with the superb Mass Medicaid Policy Institute summary, come back for a brief discussion of today's news. [short summary: waiver= permission by federal government allowing state to claim federal Medicaid reimbursement funds for health reform spending] Read more »

Congrats, Terry!

Yesterday, EOHHS Secretary Bigby announced that Terry Dougherty will permanently take the post of Medicaid Director. Terry served as interim director since September, and will continue to serve as Assistant Secretary. Terry's work is cut out for him. Beyond the immediate budget issues, it's time for the state to begin thinking about the next iteration of the MassHealth waiver, the agreement with the federal government that structures and funds most of our state health programs. The current waiver expires at the end of June, 2011. We look forward to working with Terry to ensure that the 1.2... 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 »


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