A Healthy Blog

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

National Health Reform

Connector Moves Forward with hCentive, Plans Outreach Activities, and Repeals Employer Health Care Regulations

As announced earlier this month, Massachusetts is moving forward with a state-based system for its health insurance eligibility and enrollment system and consumer-facing website. Today’s Connector Board meeting focused on the progress made in building this new system and the Connector and MassHealth’s plans for coverage transitions and outreach and enrollment leading up to the next open enrollment period. The Connector Board also voted on the repeal of some obsolete employer-related regulations. The Connector ran through a live demonstration of the work-in-progress website, showing that it... Read more »

Breaking: Massachusetts Granted Permission To Operate State-Based Health Exchange

This great news just in from the state. We're very pleased, because it means Massachusetts can proceed with its own affordability assistance and other state programs that will meet the needs of our consumers: Commonwealth of Massachusetts Press Release STATE TO USE hCENTIVE AS HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE WEBSITE FOR FALL 2014 OPEN ENROLLMENTDecision means Massachusetts will remain a State-based Marketplace, FFM no longer needed as a contingency plan BOSTON – Friday, August 8, 2014 – Maydad Cohen, Special Assistant to the Governor for Project Delivery, today announced that the Patrick... Read more »

Over 208,000 Mass Consumers Getting $15 Million in Insurer Rebates

The "Medical Loss Ratio (MLR)" rule is the horrible name for a very good idea - assuring good value for your premiums. The law guarantees that health insurers use almost all of the premium dollars they collect for health care benefits for their subscribers. This has the effect of limiting how much insurers can retain to spend on administrative costs like overhead and marketing. Under the ACA, insurers in the large group market need to spend at least 85% of their premium revenue on health care, including quality improvements. For the small group and indivudal market, Massachusetts exceeds the... Read more »

What Two Massachusetts Advocates Learned at the State of Enrollment Conference

“We have succeeded in covering millions of people – now we have to keep them covered” was a message we heard numerous times throughout Enroll America’s State of Enrollment conference.  The days at #SOE2014 were jam-packed with informative workshops and plenaries offering innovative, creative, and experience-driven ideas about how to successfully engage the remaining uninsured and keep those that have enrolled covered. And we know Navigators, Certified Application Counselors (CACs), and other assisters will be critical to ensuring this work is done and done right! Here are some of our key... Read more »

Connector Reports Progress with hCentive, Awards 2015 Conditional Seal of Approval, and Approves Budget

Thursday’s Health Connector Board meeting was jam-packed with important agenda items, including: Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) Project Update; Conditional 2015 Seal of Approval; Health Connector Fiscal Year 2014 and 2015 Administrative Budgets; and Dell Work Orders. It's clear that the Connector staff is pleased with the progress being made towards "standing up" (their phrase) the website and eligibilty system for the fall open enrollment. New health reform czar Maydad Cohen has confidently mastered the complex details of the ongoing work.  Still, there are real risks, and they continue to... Read more »

Health reform for the long haul - Chip's perspective

Our friend and Board member Chip Joffe-Halpern wrote a column for the Berkshire Eagle (State health reform for the long haul), explaining some of the challenges and successes in Massachusetts’ implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Chip runs Ecu-Health Care, a non-profit which helps the uninsured and underinsured residents of North Berkshire access affordable health care. His op-ed today puts into context where we are, and where we are going. He concludes that, “Massachusetts has implemented policies that go beyond the federal guidelines and will more effectively achieve the objectives of... Read more »

Connector Board Discusses Path Forward for IT Systems Fix, Repeals Employer Regulations

Last Thursday, the Health Connector Board met to discuss progress with the “dual track” plan to fix the eligibility and enrollment system; vote on work orders with business vendor Dell; and vote to repeal employer-related regulations. Jean Yang began with her Executive Director’s report, with a preview of the July board meeting. In July, Connector staff plan to come to the Board with: Read more »

Breaking: Health Connector Announces Coverage Extensions

At this morning’s Health Connector Board meeting, Maydad Cohen, the new health reform implementation czar (official title: Special Assistant to the Governor for Project Delivery), announced that Massachusetts received approval from federal CMS officials to extend the Commonwealth Care and temporary MassHealth coverage programs through December 31, 2014. Over 100,000 residents are enrolled in Commonwealth Care and 227,000 residents are receiving temporary MassHealth coverage. People who are getting coverage through these programs will have their coverage automatically extended through the end... Read more »

Testimony From Last Week's Connector Enrollment Systems Hearing (UPDATED)

Last week the legislature's Committee on Health Care Financing held a public hearing on the issues stemming from the problems with the enrollment and eligibility systems built for the Health Connector and MassHealth. The testimony from the administrative was offered by Secretaries John Polanowicz (Health and Human Services) and Glen Shor, (Administration and Finance); the Connector Website czar (formal title: Special Assistant to the Governor for Project Delivery) Sarah Iselin; Health Connector Executive Director Jean Yang; and MassHealth Director Kristin Thorn. Read more »

Here it is, your moment of health care . . .

  Colbert mourns the 7.1 million enrolled in exchange plans. Wait 'till he finds out total new coverage due to the ACA is as many as 26 million, and growing (source). Click here to watch, or on the picture above. Read more »

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