A Healthy Blog

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


Health Reform Up Close and Personal: Day 1

With critical state and federal funding decisions for health reform under consideration over the next 10 days or so, we want to make sure everyone understands the human dimensions of chapter 58. While us policy experts are discussing tens and hundreds of millions of dollars for this or that, real people are getting real health care, every day. For the next 10 days, we're going to present a daily real-life example of how health reform is touching the lives of Massachusetts. All the stories (names are changed) come from recent callers to the HCFA Helpline, which receives some 700 calls every... Read more »

Numbers of the Moment: 474,134 people, $636.8 million

The Division of Health Care Finance and Policy released their long-awaited report on Massachusetts firms with 50 or more workers using MassHealth, Commonwealth Care or the Uncompensated Care Pool (the report and all the supporting data is here) The bottom line is two very big numbers: 474,134 people, $636.8 million. That’s how many people who worked for these large firms received health benefits, and how much the Commonwealth spent providing them with health coverage. We will provide further analysis in the coming days. Read more »

Enrollment Milestone: Post-Reform MassHealth Enrollment Tops 100K

The latest MassHealth Enrollment Snapshot report (Excel download here) shows that total MassHealth enrollment grew by 14,272 people during March. The growth comprised 7,505 adults and 6,765 children. Most of the growth in March was among the lower-income categories. MassHealth Standard, which generally covers parents below 133% of poverty and kids below 150%, grew by just over 10,000, and MassHealth Basic and Essential, which cover unemployed adults below poverty, added another 2000. The Family Assistance program, which mostly covers higher income children and some parents, decreased slightly... Read more »

New Report: 1 in 4 Uninsured Are Eligible for Coverage (Not in MA)

New report from the National Insitute for Healthcare Management: Understanding the Uninsured: Tailoring Policy Solutions for Different Subpopulations: One in four people without health insurance in America are eligible for government-funded health coverage but have failed to sign up for any government aid program, according to a new study. The study, by nonprofit research group National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation (NIHCM), says 12 million of the nation’s 47 million uninsured could sign up for Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), but fail to... Read more »

New England Children's Health Summit Meets

Congratulations to the New England Alliance for Children’s Health on a successful Children’s Healthcare Summit yesterday in Lowell. Over 90 individuals from across New England and the country attended the informative day-long event featuring presentations on NEACH’s current work and future projects. A panel of experts from Washington, DC reviewed the last year’s challenges with SCHIP reauthorization and the continuing opportunities for advocacy. Next, business leaders from across New England gave a presentation on new opportunities to engage the business community on children’s health issues... Read more »

House Budget Day 2 Recap

Thanks to Representative Ruth Balser, chair of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee, yesterday the House restored funding to the Massachusetts Children's Psychiatric Access Project (MCPAP). MCPAP helps address the shortage of child psychiatrists in Massachusetts by providing phone consultations to pediatricians’ offices. MCPAP has been overwhelmingly successful since its creation. Currently, more than 96% of all pediatricians participate in the program. Representative Balser has been a tireless leader on children’s mental health issues and is the lead sponsor of S. 2518, An Act... Read more »

House Ways & Means Releases FY09 Budget Plan

The House Committee on Ways and Means released its FY09 budget proposal today. The $27.9B budget includes $100M+ in cost savings. At today’s press conference, Chairman Robert DeLeo said his number one priority was to keep the state’s commitment to cities and towns. DeLeo said his Committee went through the budget line by line to ensure that cuts didn’t “cripple” specific agencies or hurt the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens. DeLeo addressed the need for new revenue, citing the cigarette tax recently passed in the House. DeLeo said this budget will “lay the groundwork for the... Read more »

Farewell to CMS' Dennis Smith

Those who pay extremely close attention to national Medicaid policy know the name, Dennis Smith, well; and he's unknown to 99.999% of everyone else. Here's a note from the Kaiser Daily Report: Dennis Smith on Friday left his position as the director of CMS' Center for Medicaid and State Operations, which he had held for the past seven years. Smith -- who also briefly was acting administrator of CMS -- has been criticized for proposing Medicaid regulations that state governors and some lawmakers believe will reduce health care funding for low-income residents. He also received criticism... Read more »

Kudos to Commonwealth Care Alliance

Yesterday's Globe included an editorial ("Managing Care the Right Way") giving well deserved praise to Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA) -- NO relation at all to Commonwealth Care, health reform's subsidized insurance program: MANAGED CARE got a bad reputation in the 1990s. At its best, though, this method of organizing healthcare saves money while enhancing the quality of patients' lives. In Massachusetts, the Commonwealth Care Alliance, which bills itself as a nonprofit care delivery system, is succeeding in its five-year-old experiment on whether treatment can be coordinated and improved... Read more »

Materials for Tomorrow's Connector Meeting

Agenda for tomorrow and recent board minutes now available on Connector website. Read more »


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