A Healthy Blog

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

National Health Reform

Déjà vu on employers and ACA

Today's Boston Globe off-lead story, Mass. firms mull cuts in health benefits, reminds me of a song. Or perhaps songs. For me, it's Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, one of the first records I ever bought.  For others, it might be a different Déjà Vu, maybe by Beyoncé (with Jay Z). Or perhaps Eminem, or Dionne Warwick. Read more »

All Your Base Rates Are Belong To Us: Springfield Republican Reports on Premiums Under Obamacare

Yesterday, a story by Shira Schoenberg in the Springfield Republican  covered the just-approved health insurance rates for next year: Read more »

Remember That Dire ACA Forecast? Never Mind.

Remember that dire report commissioned by the Mass Association of Health Plans from July (it's here (pdf))? Never mind. The report was an attempt to forecast the impact of the ACA on small group and individual premiums in Massachusetts. The ominous Globe headline was "National health care overhaul apt to push up costs." The story said: The analysis, by Wakely Consulting Group, projects President Obama’s health care law — supported by the Patrick administration — will tack an average of 3.7 percent on to premiums. Read more »

Fairness and Responsibility: What Should Happen Now With The Massachusetts Employer Provisions

As we noted on Monday, the budget just sent to Governor Patrick includes provisions repealing the Massachusetts Employer Fair Share statute. We were not supportive of the repeal, but understood the logic: since the federal ACA employer requirements were taking effect in January, it was OK to lose the state structure for just 6 months. Then yesterday, the Obama administration announced that it would not enforce the federal employer fair share provisions for 2014. Ruh-roh. 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 »

Senate Takes Up ACA Bill Today

The Massachusetts state Senate is planning to vote today on legislation to implement the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts. The bill (H. 3452) was approved by the Senate Ways and Means Committee yesterday. The Committee recommended several technical amendments, and one curious symbolic amendment that purports to address a lingering, bogus issue that apparently cannot be put to rest. Read more »

House Passes ACA Bill

Today the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed legislation required to implement the ACA. The bill passed on a 116-32 vote that was almost all along party lines. Every Republican voted no, and all but two Democrats voted in favor of the bill. The vote was preceded by a spirited, if somewhat misguided, debate. Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, chair of the Public Health Committee, began the debate by emphasizing that the ACA would improve coverage by building on our earlier expansions, and save money for state taxpayers: "We’ve been innovators here in this building, and everyone is looking at us... 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 »

ACA Drives Cumberland Farms To Expand Coverage. Result: "Shockwaves Throughout the Industry"

The Framingham-based company that owns the Cumberland Farms convenience store chain and all Northeast Gulf gas stations just announced a smart, reasonable step that will be seen as bold, and confounds conventional wisdom about implementation of the ACA. Effective January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act requires that full-time employees working at a company with at least 50 workers have access to affordable health insurance through their employer. Full-time is defined as working 30 hours a week or more. If the company chooses not to offer full-time employees affordable health coverage, the... Read more »

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