A Healthy Blog

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

MassHealth/Medicaid

Obamacare in Massachusetts: Incremental Transformation

Understandably, there's lots media attention on October 1 as the D-Day for health reform. The health insurance marketplaces will be newly open in every state (of course, in  Massachusetts we've had our Health Connector since 2006),  and people can shop for both subsidized and unsubsidized coverage. But it's just the start of an open enrollment period that will continue through next March. Even if someone enrolls on October 1, coverage doesn't begin until January. Still, October 1 is a critical date. For us in Massachusetts, though, October 1 is more of a milestone along an evolutionary path... Read more »

Happy Fiscal New Year! House, Senate Send FY 2014 Budget to Governor, With Some Good News for MassHealth Dental Coverage

Today the House and Senate sent to the Governor the FY 2014 budget (giant pdf), which  was filed by the joint conference committee late last night. Any minute now, we'll get a detailed report from our friends at the Mass Budget and Policy Center, and we'll post a link and any updates as they do their analysis. (Update: their analysis is here) But we were smiling when we turned first to the Medicaid line items. Smiling, of course, because the final budget includes $17.2 million to restore coverage for dental fillings for adults in the MassHealth program. These funds should allow the MassHealth... Read more »

ACA Bill Advances in Massachusetts House

Today the state House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to Governor Patrick's legislation to implement the ACA in Massachusetts. The bill, H. 3452 (text, section-by-section (pdf), and topical summary (pdf)), is expected to come up for a final House vote on Wednesday. Read more »

Senate Budget Ups Some Health Funds

After two long days (and long nights), the Senate finalized their budget for Fiscal Year 2014 (which starts in July), and in doing so brought some good tidings for health in Massachusetts. Perhaps the greatest win was in oral health – the Senate allocated $13 million to the MassHealth line item to restore coverage for dental fillings for MassHealth members. Senator Harriette Chandler led a group of senators to push for the increase. Limits in current coverage often force patients to choose between enduring months (or years) of dental pain due to untreated cavities, or undergoing the only... Read more »

Senate Budget Debate Starts Wednesday - Here's Our Amendment Recommendations

Tomorrow the state Senate will begin debating its version of the state budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins on July 1. Like the House budget did, the Senate Ways and Means version starts out with a strong commitment to building on the state's health coverage reforms through implementation of the ACA, and some substantial deficiencies in funding for health care programs. The best overview of the Senate budget comes, of course, from the Mass Budget and Policy Center. The overview notes the continued decline in support for public health: Read more »

More Building Blocks For ACA Implementation

While ACA implementation remains contentious in many states, in Massachusetts the building blocks are being set in place in a routine and orderly way. On Wednesday, MassHealth released its revised ACA implementation plan, called the "Roadmap to 2014." Also released was the state's proposal to the federal CMS for an extension of our Medicaid waiver, along with supporting documents (the materials can be found on the MassHealth waiver documents webpage). Read more »

House Approves MassHealth Dental Fillings in Budget; Still Cuts MassHealth

It was hard to notice. But an obscure section in a the final, technical amendment during the House budget debate would allow over 800,000 low-income adults to receive dental fillings under the budget approved by the Massachusetts House of Representatives Wednesday night. The budget amendment added $17.2 million to restore coverage for fillings in the MassHealth adult dental plan, effective January 1, 2014. Those benefiting include 120,000 seniors and 180,000 people with disabilities. Oral health is a crucial part of overall health. Left untreated, dental decay can spread throughout the body,... Read more »

House Budget Debate: Call Now For MassHealth Dental Coverage and Staffing

This week starts the budget process in the state House of Representatives. For the next 3-4 days, the House will deal with some 888 amendments. The full budget and amendments are here.  You can also download the "Amendment Book" which has the amendments summarized and categorized by topic. I counted 49 in the Health and Human Services category, another 27 in the Mental Health and Disabilities category, and 58 in the Public Health category. That's a lot. Read more »

House Budget: Funds ACA, Cuts Dental, Cuts Public Health. But It's Mostly About the Revenue.

It's all about the revenue. Yesterday the House released its proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. With the House counting on much less revenue than the Governor called for, they used two strategies to bring the budget into balance: make lots of cuts, and use lots more one-time revenue sources. Although transportation and education face the biggest cuts compared to the Governor's proposal, there are some gaping holes in health care as well. Read more »

Children's Budget - New Resource Looks At How We Meet Health, Other Kids Needs

Guest post by Nancy Wagman,  Kids Count Project Director at The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center Read more »

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