A Healthy Blog

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

MassHealth/Medicaid

Have You Experienced Delays in MassHealth or Commonwealth Care Eligibility Processing?

MassHealth and Commonwealth Care have together enrolled some 135,000 new members since last June. MassHealth and all of health reform's supporters can be proud of this remarkable achievement. This fast ramp-up has undoubtedly put a strain on the enrollment infrastructure at MassHealth. Health reform's success requires prompt processing of applications and other forms. Once the individual mandate becomes operative, this function will be even more crucial. In recent months, we have heard growing reports of delays and frustrations when uninsured people attempt to enroll in coverage. Outreach... Read more »

Barbara Leadholm Appointed Mental Health Commissioner

Another solid appointment to the Health and Human Services team was announced today: Barbara Leadholm as the new Commissioner of Mental Health. Here's the announcement: Ms. Leadholm has a broad and thorough understanding of the mental health system and consumers’ diverse needs. Her clinical knowledge and leadership skills will enable DMH to set an ambitious agenda focused on providing quality services; improving access; and empowering consumers and their families. Read more »

Tom Dehner Named Permanent Medicaid Director

Tom Dehner, who has served as acting Medicaid Director since Beth Waldman's departure in January, has been named by HHS Secretary Judy Ann Bigby as the permanent director. Tom has been a great friend to the health care access and advocacy community, even during times when they were not supposed to be friendly to us. We think it's a great appointment and offer our congrats to Tom. Here's the Secretary's announcement: As Medicaid Director, Tom is responsible for MassHealth as a whole, and he will have the authority to run the entire Medicaid program. In addition, because MassHealth serves... Read more »

Paying to Promote Performance and Diversity

Today Office of Medicaid Director Tom Dehner presided over a MassHealth Payment Policy Advisory Board meeting to discuss the new “pay-for-performance” program (P4P) required under the Health Reform law. The session opened with a presentation by Elizabeth Pressman, director of Primary Providers, on the MassHealth Hospital P4P plan. Section 25 of Chapter 58 requires that part MassHealth hospital rate increases be contingent on “performance,” including reduction of racial and ethnic disparities. Read more »

New Report on Pay-for-Performance and Disparities

The MA Medicaid Policy Institute has released a new report: "Pay-for-Performance to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care in the Massachusetts Medicaid Program." Click here for a copy. The paper reports on the work of an expert roundtable organized in response to a part of Chapter 58, the health care reform law: that future increase in Medicaid hospital rates be in part contingent on quality measures, including measures of the reduction of racial and ethnic disparities. The focus on disparities is new territory for pay-for-performance programs. MMPI assembled the roundtable... Read more »

New Key EOHHS Appointment

Somehow news of this top appointment on June 8th escaped our attention -- but this news matters. Terry Dougherty comes highly recommended from many sources -- he will be a key person in top level finance matters involving MassHealth, the next federal waiver, and a whole lot more. A strong appointment and a good move: Subject: A Message from Secretary Bigby Dear EOHHS Agency Heads and Staff: I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Terence G. Dougherty as Assistant Secretary for Finance and Financial Policy. In this role he will help to develop cross agency policies related to... Read more »

Pooling Our Health Care

The Uncompensated Care Pool -- soon to be renamed the Safety Net Care Pool -- is central to our health care system for low income people. Our Pool system ideally means that hospitals are not penalized financially for treating a low-income uninsured person, and that low income uninsured people can get care at hospitals and community health centers without regard to their ability to pay. It is our true safety net, the coverage of last resort, for people who would otherwise languish without needed care. The Pool represents the most compassionate aspect of our complex health care system. Read more »

New Report on Medicare Part D Implementation in Massachusetts

Great new report on the status of Medicare Part D implementation in Massachusetts: "Medicare Part D Successes and Continuing Challenges: Impact of Medicare Part D on Massachusetts Health Programs and Beneficiaries." Produced by the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum and the Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute. Bottom line: 777,000 have Part D coverage one way or another and 125,000 have no drug coverage. $72 to $115 million in net savings to Massachusetts government programs such as Medicaid and Prescription Advantage. Lots and lots more useful information and analysis. Prepared by Dr.... Read more »

Iraq War Bill Funds Also MA Kids Coverage

Yesterday the U.S. Congress acted to expand both funding for the Iraq war and children’s health insurance at the same time. Contained in the war funding bill signed by the President yesterday is approximately $650 million in emergency money for states to fund their SCHIP programs. Around $80 million will go to Massachusetts. SCHIP, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, is a highly successful initiative that provides quality, affordable health care coverage for children. In Massachusetts alone, almost 82,000 are covered by SCHIP (a good overview is here). Read more »

MA Dental Society Urges Members to Become MassHealth Providers

Kudos to the Massachusetts Dental Society. At its Annual House of Delegates meeting on 5/11/07, the Society officially approved a resolution encouraging all its 4,000+ active members to enroll in the MassHealth (Medicaid) dental program. “Today, the Massachusetts Dental Society has taken the important step of approving a resolution encouraging member dentists to participate in the MassHealth dental program,” says Dr. Andrea Richman, president of the MDS. “Reducing some of the barriers in obtaining dental care is critical to the overall health of every citizen. Read more »

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