A Healthy Blog

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


Feds Approve MassHealth Waiver Proposal

Today the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Massachusetts' application for a broad restructuring of the MassHealth Medicaid program. Read more »

MassHealth Drops Plan to Cut Benefits

Most MassHealth members have the option of either enrolling in a health plan (a Managed Care Organization or MCO) or the Primary Care Clinician Plan (PCCP). In efforts to move more members to managed care, MassHealth proposed in its 1115 waiver proposal to cut chiropractic services, eyeglasses, hearing aids, orthotics and potentially other benefits in the PCC Plan, while maintaining these benefits for members enrolled in MCOs. Read more »

HCFA Coalitions Submit Comments to Feds on MassHealth Redesign

MassHealth has pending before CMS - the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services - its proposal for a major redesign of its care delivery system. MassHealth is the state's Medicaid program, and covers nearly 1.9 million Bay Staters.  The proposal (read the submission and supporting materials here) calls for creating Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) as a new choice for MassHealth members. An ACO is made up of primary care providers who team up to provide integrated, coordinated care, with the goal of both treating patients when they are sick, and keeping members healthy. They... Read more »

HCFA Organizes Comments To MassHealth on Waiver Proposal

In mid-June, MassHealth took another step towards payment and care delivery systems reforms with the release of their 1115 waiver proposal (background: section 1115 of the Social Security Act allows the federal government to authorize state demonstration projects to improve Medicaid). Through the 1115 waiver, MassHealth is requesting authority from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to restructure MassHealth care delivery through implementation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and expand substance use disorders services. Read more »

Packed Crowd at MassHealth Listening Session on ACOs

The room - actually 3 rooms combined - was packed as MassHealth held its first listening session for its federal waiver application which includes its ACO proposal and much more. The session was held in conjunction with the regular meetings of two MassHealth advisory panels. Despite it being a late Friday afternoon before the first weekend of the summer, interest in the proposal was very high. Given the number of speakers, the session, which started at 2:30 was supposed to go to 4, dragged on until almost 5. A second session will be held in Fitchburg on Monday, June 27. Read more »

Hope Yet for Health Safety Net

Yesterday, the legislature began a process to extend a temporary reprieve to low-income residents concerned about planned cuts to their access to health care. Last month, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) proposed changes to regulations governing the Health Safety Net (HSN) program. The HSN provides payments to hospitals and community health centers (CHCs) for providing care to low-income uninsured and underinsured Massachusetts residents. The program is primarily funded by an assessment on hospitals and insurers. Read more »

Elder Leap Day for Better Health Care for Seniors

Today, Health Care For All was delighted to join hundreds of seniors, advocates, and caregivers at the Grand Staircase in the State House to advocate for services that keep seniors healthy and living at home. Mass Home Care organized and AARP Massachusetts State Director Mike Festa emceed the event. Over a dozen senior and disability organizations sponsored the event. Read more »

Still More To Do: Blue Cross Foundation Report Shows Public Coverage In Mass Not As Good As Private [Updated]

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation released a report authored by Sharon K. Long and Thomas H. Dimmock of the Urban Institute that analyzes the 2013 Massachusetts Reform Survey by comparing the experience of adults with employer-sponsored insurance coverage (ESI) to adults with public coverage, mostly MassHealth, but some with Connector-sponsored coverage. Read more »

Rep. Sánchez On Progress and Challenges in MassHealth Delivery Reform Efforts

Writing in the blog of the leading national health policy journal Health Affairs, state Health Care Financing Committee co-chair Representative Jeffrey Sánchez provides a balanced summary of MassHealth's efforts to push delivery reform forward. The post, titled Tackling Medicaid In Massachusetts, looks at both the progress we have made, and the serious challenges we have encountered. After mentioning the success we have had at meeting the cost growth benchmark for 2013, Sánchez frames the issue with the context of the critical role MassHealth plays in the state's health care system: Read more »

Happy Denture Day

  Today marks a milestone in the 5-year effort to restore full oral health and dental benefits for adults on the MassHealth program. Today, MassHealth is restoring coverage for dentures (here's the official notice), another step along the road we hope leads to full coverage of all dental care. In 2010, the Governor eliminated almost all dental benefits for adults on the MassHealth program - over 700,000 people, including 120,000 very low-income seniors. The cut reversed a legislative directive to include all dental services for MassHealth members, included as part of the Romneycare law,... Read more »


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