A Healthy Blog

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


Strong Senate Budget

The Senate Ways and Means Committee sent its budget proposal to the Senate floor today. Debate starts next Wednesday. The budget includes strong provisions on health access. Health reform is fully funded, and there are no cuts to MassHealth or other health programs. SWM Chair Steven Panagiotakos emphasized the Senate's commitment to the success of health reform, and to continued public investments in health coverage and public health. You can read the budget materials here. Outreach Grants Funded We were especially happy that the Senate included the full $3.5 million for grants to community... Read more »

New Report on SCHIP and MassHealth

The Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute has just published The State Children's Health Insurance Program in Massachusetts: Achievements, Challenges, and Implications for Health Reform. The report was written by Beth Waldman, formerly the State's Medicaid Director, now a senior consultant at Bailit Health Purchasing. The report first gives background on SCHIP and how it is integrated with MassHealth. It discusses current SCHIP policy issues: this year's shortfall in federal funding, and the federal reauthorization of the entire program, set to expire in September. Because of how the... Read more »

House Budget Amendments

The House voted unanimously 157-0 Thursday night to adopt a package of budget amendments relating to Medicaid and Elder Affairs (text here, soon, or try here). The "consolidated amendment" was hashed out in private all day Thursday, taking much longer to work out than most observers expected. A number of the changes affect payment rates for particular providers. State House News Service reported that the amendments added $38.7 million, mostly for Medicaid (which is half federally reimbursed). Here are some highlights on topics we watch: Read more »

Two Neat New Tools on Kids Health Coverage

Check out these two new tools on children's health insurance coverage from the Kaiser Family Foundation: First is a national children's health coverage timeline covering the last 40+ years -- click here. Nicely interactive and user friendly. Great shorthand history update. Read more »

Click For A Better Budget

On Monday the House of Representatives begins its debate on the budget for FY 08. We have been working with a number of House members on critical amendments to the budget. The amendments restore funds for health reform outreach, improve children's mental health, revive the emergency prescription drug program, and fund several oral health priorities. Use the links below today to send an email to your representative in support of these vital budget amendments. Read more »

Damning with Faint Praise -- or Praising with Faint Damns?: Public Citizens Ranks MassHealth #1

Click here for the new Public Citizen Report evaluating the 50 state Medicaid program. MassHealth comes in #1 -- though PC says it's primarily because the other 49 programs are so stinky. Hey, take the compliments from wherever you can... We rank eighth in eligibility, though we would be higher if the report were done today because of the eligibility expansions in MassHealth, especially increasing kids' eligibility from 200 to 300%fpl. We rank #1 in quality of care, though they ding us for less than great standards in nursing homes. We rank #23 in reimbursement because of a lack of parity... Read more »

More Transitions: To, Not From...

Two new job announcements today involving the two finalists for Executive Director of the Commonwealth Quality and Cost Council: Katharine London, from the Attorney General’s Office, has been hired today as the new executive director of the Commonwealth Quality and Cost Council. London is the council’s first hire. Since 2003, she worked as the director of health policy at the Attorney General’s Public Protection Bureau and from 1996 to 2003 she worked for the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy as director of the Office of Special Policy Initiatives and as policy development manager. Read more »

Update on HCFA v. Romney: One Year Into Remediation

In 2000, HCFA's crack law firm, Health Law Advocates, filed a class action lawsuit in federal court on behalf of HCFA and MassHealth families. The case, HCFA v. Romney, charged state officials with failing to ensure access to oral health for MassHealth members in violation of federal law. US District Court Judge Rya Zobel, ruled in 2005 that the state’s oral health program for MassHealth children violated federal law. HLA and MassHealth submitted a joint remediation plan detailing steps MassHealth will take to fix the program. An independent remediation monitor, Dr. Catherine Hayes, an oral... Read more »

New Report on MassHealth

The always-valuable Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute has released a new report on the challenges facing the MassHealth program. The report provides a good up-to-the-minute overview of the status of MassHealth. The meat of the report discusses four critical issues facing the new administration: renewing the MassHealth waiver, improving the value of MassHealth purchasing, rebalancing long-term care, and providing strong leadership and bolstering staff. This is must reading for policymakers and anyone needing background on MassHealth. We would strongly second to policymakers the findings... Read more »

NY Times: Medicaid Citizenship Paperwork Shuts Out 10s of Thousands

Today's NY Times features a front page story on the citizenship and identity documentation process added to Medicaid last year. The requirement -- which affects only US citizens, not immigrants -- has led to loss of coverage to tens of thousands of citizens. Here are two states' experience: Read more »


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