A Healthy Blog

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


Good News: Congress Passes Temporary SCHIP Fix

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, Congress passed legislation to preserve health coverage for thousands of children in MA and across the nation. MA and other states have been facing a major financial shortfall in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Advocates, state officials and others have been pushing Congress to act. The 11th-hour action on Capitol Hill will allow Massachusetts to temporarily plug a funding shortfall and continue to provide coverage to 40,000 MA kids. Because SCHIP is not an entitlement, the money appropriated to some states is often unspent at the... Read more »

MassHealth Expansions Increase Enrollment

Amid the justifiable hoopla over the launch of Commonwealth Care (over 30,000 below-poverty individuals have been determined eligible with another 18,000 to be reviewed in the next 3 weeks), many have missed the steady growth of MassHealth. The chapter 58 health reform statute increased eligibility for children and raised caps for a number of programs, starting last July. New figures released today show that enrollment has grown substantially. From June 30 to Oct. 31, the number of kids enrolled has grown by 24,491. Adult enrollment has grown by 22,762. Almost 10,000 of the new adult... Read more »

Romney Restores $41M, Including Health Reform Outreach and Enrollment Money

Three weeks and a day after leveling $425m in cuts, the Romney administration today restored $41m of those funds, including the entire $2.7m cut to outreach and enrollment for MassHealth and Commonwealth Care. Secretary Trimarco cited $84m in revenue over what had been projected for November as the reason for the restorations. Of course, excess revenues were widely anticipated, and $41m is less than 1/10 of the cuts, but the outreach and enrollment restoration is exceedingly good news. The restoration will enable organizations, including Health Care For All, to launch their comprehensive,... Read more »

Will the New Democratic Congress Challenge Bush on Medicaid?

Will newly empowered Congressional Dems rein in the Bush Administration's degrees of freedom in negotiating wide ranging waivers with state Medicaid programs? The topic is covered in The Hill and the answer is a definite "maybe:" “Democrats are concerned about the substantial changes in benefits and out-of-pocket costs that could be imposed on families under the new Deficit Reduction Act provisions. These matters will be explored in greater detail next Congress,” incoming House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) told The Hill in a written statement. ... Read more »

Gravity's Rainbow: Medicaid Spending FALLS

Man bites dog! Water runs uphill! Medicaid spending declines! I vote for #3 as the least plausible -- but that's what's happening, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, as reported in USA Today. Here are some snippets: Medicaid spending has declined unexpectedly this year, the first drop since the health program for the poor was created in 1965. The historic reversal will free up billions of dollars in state budgets. Medicaid has been the fastest-growing expense for states over the past 10 years. Read more »

One Cheer for the Federal Medicaid Commission Report

The final report issued by a federal commission formed one year ago to recommend changes to the federal Medicaid has received predictable reactions – praise from the right and hits from the left. Described in today’s New York Times, these are the key recommendations: Read more »

Where Is Medicaid (National) Going?

Two articles over the past two weeks give a revealing portrait of important and evolving changes in today's Medicaid program, the essential health insurance safety new for about 55 million of America's neediest. The new Nov-Dec issue of Health Affairs has a lead article by James Robinson, "Insurers Adapt to an Eroding Workplace Market." Bottom line -- growth in employee enrollment in private health insurance plans is flat as a pancake and, in fact, slightly declining. But the national insurers are doing quite well, thank you, by growing the enrollment in public programs, chiefly Medicare... Read more »

Budget Storm Clouds on the Near Horizon

Lead editorial in today's Globe suggests a state budget squeeze is at hand. No action before election day, though what happens on Wednesday? Will lame duck Gov. Romney use his "9c" budget power to make unilateral cuts? Enhances his budget discipline street cred in the Republican presidential race -- the more people scream, the better he looks in that narrative. Or he says I tried, Legislature overrode my vetoes, and leaves it to Deval Patrick to solve his first governing dilemma. Either way, this undiscussed issue will grow in importance quite quickly after Tuesday. Hard to see how... Read more »

HLA Recommendations on New MassHealth Citizenship Requirements

HCFA's indefatigable law firm -- Health Law Advocates -- has submitted recommendations to MassHealth to ensure minimal disrupture of eligibility due to the new federal requirements for citizenship documentation. This summary was provided by HLA's Sara Pic Harrison: Read more »

Romney Admin's Six Month Implementation Update

You can get the Romney Administration's Six Month Implementation Report to the House and Senate by clicking here. No surprises or curveballs we could see, lots of good and nitty gritty information, especially on public health restorations. Read more »


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