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

National Health Reform

Connector Update on Temporary Coverage for People Seeking Subidized Insurance

Connector Executive Director Jean Yang called it “a backup to the backup” in a Boston Globe article about plans in process to prevents gaps or delays in coverage despite major dysfunction in the state's online eligibility and enrollment processing system. On late Friday, MassHealth and the Connector released more information about the temporary coverage plan: Read more »

HPC Committee Hears Testimony on Consumer Appeals Regulation

The Health Policy Commission’s (HPC) Quality Improvement and Patient Protection Committee held a hearing Monday on proposed amendments to 958 CMR 3.000, the Office of Patient Protection (OPP) regulation governing health plan internal and external appeals procedures.  The proposed amendments follow a listening session that OPP convened over the summer, and include consumer-friendly changes required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Massachusetts state laws, as well as changes to provide additional clarifications and protections for consumers. Read more »

Connector Board Report: Lingering Legacy, and Moving Forward

With just a few weeks before ACA coverage programs begin, the Connector Board met today to discuss website and coverage issues, vote on final regulations for student plans and the new ConnectorCare subsidized coverage program, and approve customer service and risk adjustment contract extensions. This was the final meeting under the Connector's programmatic offerings that go back to 2006's Chapter 58. Starting in January, it will be Connector 2.0, the ACA Marketplace. But, as we learned today, lots of legacy infrastructure will linger into the new year for a while longer.  Materials from the... Read more »

This Thanksgiving, We're Thankful For Health Reform

Thanksgiving is about being grateful. Here at Health Care For All, we see every day the impact Massachusetts health reform has on people all around us. We know it can work, because we've seen it work. That's why we're grateful for the ACA and national health reform. Please share this graphic far and wide: (and see this more detailed ACA Thanksgiving discussion guide by the Washington Post's Sarah Kliff) Read more »

HCFA Urges Massachusetts To Reject Extending Non-Compliant Plans (UPDATE: Admin agrees with us)

The Obama administration's decision to permit insurers to continue to offer plans they otherwise would have cancelled (here's some good place-it-in-context background from The New Republic's Jon Cohn) is still subject to state insurance market rules. Already a number of states, including Washington, Arkansas, Vermont and Rhode Island, have ruled that they will continue to insist that all new plans offered in the state comply with the consumer protections in the ACA. Note that "grandfathered" plans, in existence before the ACA was signed in 2010, were always still allowed to be offered to... Read more »

President Comes To Town

Last week, on a day full of victories, the President of the United States visited Boston to defend the Affordable Care Act. He began his historic appearance at Faneuil Hall with the self-deprecating and not altogether untrue observation that his visit was not the biggest event of the day, given the Red Sox World Series game that night. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"278","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"344","width":"425","style":""}}]] The President’s appearance was capped off with a wonderful introduction by Governor Patrick, who, with... Read more »

Jon Stewart, Of Course

Last night Jon Stewart, of course, put the latest newsblork in the proper context. Go watch it. Read more »

Senator Warren: "Our experience in Massachusetts suggests that it might be prudent to take a deep breath"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=656bbzXAZsk At today's Obamacare hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, Senator Elizabeth Warren brought in the voice of experience - the Massachusetts health reform experience. In her question to federal CMS adminstrator Marylyn Tavenner, Senator Warren repeated a line from last week's Faneuil Hall event with President Obama and Governor Patrick: "Health reform in Massachusetts, like the Affordable Care Act, is not a website, it’s a values statement." She pointed out that enrollment in Massachusetts started slow and closed... Read more »

Enroll America Reports on Massachusetts Health Reform Education Campaign

Enroll America is the national non-profit working to to maximize the number of uninsured Americans who enroll in health coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act. They are focusing on states with the highest numbers of uninsured, as you would expect. But a number of their senior staff members were in Boston last week to learn about our success in Boston and share ideas and strategies. We also discussed what we are doing now to pick up the remaining uninsured and help those transitioning to ACA coverage. Read more »

Massachusetts Student Health Insurance is Getting Better

As implementation of the Affordable Care Act moves forward, Massachusetts policymakers continue to update state laws and regulations.  Recently, the Health Connector released proposed regulatory changes to the Massachusetts Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP) (pdf). Since the 1988 Dukakis universal coverage law, students attending Massachusetts colleges and universities have been required to have health insurance. The state has required all colleges and university to offer a SHIP, and gives schools the discretion as to whether to require students to take the SHIP or keep or enroll in... Read more »

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