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

National Health Reform

Happy Birthday, National Health Reform

This week, the federal Affordable Care Act turns one. Groups all over the country will be marking the anniversary with events that celebrate people who already have been helped by the law, and the benefits to come. Stay tuned for details on a Massachusetts event. To mark the occasion, a few interesting links for you all: Read more »

Massachusetts National Reform Implementation Legislation Timeline

At the EOHHS national health reform stakeholder meeting yesterday, the administration presented on the key upcoming decisions for implementing the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts, and their timeline for legislative consideration of required policy changes (download powerpoint). Read more »

Governor Patrick To Testify on National Health Reform

Fresh off his thoughtful defense of health reform, both Massachusetts and nationally, on ABC on Sunday, Governor Patrick will be testifying Tuesday morning before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He'll be joined by two other Governors who are not as friendly to the Affordable Care Act - Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Gary Herbert of Utah. The hearing starts at 9:45 am, and you can watch live on the committee site. We'll post his prepared statement as soon as it's available. Governor Patrick's testimony (pdf) is here. Read more »

Connector Board Tackles National Health Reform at Annual Retreat

There are many moving pieces in national health reform implementation. This past Saturday, the Connector Board met to begin discussing the Connector’s role in putting together the national health reform implementation puzzle (see the materials from the meeting). Glen Shor began the retreat with an overview of the agenda. He commented that while Massachusetts has a head start in some sense, “we are also planning as we’re running an exchange, which is like changing a tire while driving a bus.” Shor continued, “There is no question the Connector will look different in 2014. The question is... Read more »

Report Details Funding Opportunities in National Health Reform

How many ways is national health reform good for Massachusetts? Here's another 120 ways you probably were not aware of. In the recently updated report, Funding Opportunities in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, UMass Medical's School's Center for Health Law and Economics takes on the task of tracking available funding opportunities under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The report is designed to aid stakeholders, especially state and local leaders in non-profits as well as government, to identify opportunities for funding within the ACA’s $22 billion earmark... Read more »

Gruber For The Defense

MIT economist and Connector Board members Jonathan Gruber uses the Massachusetts experience to provide two smart, analytic defenses of health reform. Both columns appeared on the Citizen Cohn blog at The New Republic. In A Health Reform Critic Flunks Math, Gruber takes on the miscalculations of Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. Breseden published an article in the Wall Street Journal last week claiming that under health reform it would make financial sense for Tennessee and other employers to drop coverage and let their workers get federally-subsidized coverage through the Exchange. Read more »

Happiest Place on Earth Report (Updated)

Georgia Maheras, HCFA's Private Market Policy Manager, is in Orlando this week as a consumer representative at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners fall meeting. She's one of 28 designated consumer voices, competing with thousands of insurance industry lobbyists for the ears of the 50 state insurance commissioners. Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner Joseph Murphy is in attendance. NAIC normally stays out of the headlines. But the ACA gives NAIC first crack at recommending the arcane details that determine the reach of the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rules. Georgia wrote about... Read more »

Together We Can!: Feds Back Innovative State/HCFA/HLA Partnership

Today federal HHS awarded the Commonwealth a $743,000 consumer assistance grant for implementation of national health reform (federal press release, fact sheet, and blog post). Today Senator Kerry cheered the grant, saying “this investment will ensure that patients across Massachusetts get the health care information they need to protect themselves and their families.” Read more »

Harvard Pilgrim Drops a Medicare Plan, NOT Due To Health Reform

There was lots of national attention on Harvard Pilgrim's announcement last week that it was dropping its Medicare Advantage plan. As noted by Maggie Mahar on the Century Foundation's blog, the anti-Obama crowd leapt up to declare this as another sign of the evil of "Obamacare." Here are some of the articles Mahar found: Read more »

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