A Healthy Blog

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

National Health Reform

About Last Night's Question

HCFA is a 501(c)3, so we don't endorse candidates or take positions on partisan electoral issues. So we need to be careful in our commentary on last night's debate between Senate candidates Gabriel Gomez and Ed Markey, including their answers to a question about health care (watch it). So here's a topic we can have a strong opinion on: the question itself. Here it is, asked by Boston Globe political editor Cynthia Needham: 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 »

Brouhaha Good News Update: De-Merger Averted; Tobacco Surcharge Rejected

Several weeks ago we posted on the controversy over implementing ACA rules on insurance regulations. It can get complex, but the short summary is that when Chapter 58 merged the individual and small group health insurance markets, Massachusetts allowed insurers to offer discounts to the larger small groups. The discounts are matched by surcharges added to premiums paid by individuals and smaller small groups. So larger small groups (typically companies with 35-50 workers) pay less than they should, and individuals and small firms pay more than they should. The spread resulted in the winners... Read more »

What's all this brouhaha? Small group insurance premiums controversy erupts

Last Tuesday's Globe lead editorial ("Mass. needs an Obamacare waiver for small-business health plans") looked at an arcane issue that has turned into a big deal for some small business associations in Massachusetts. If you just read the editorial, or coverage in the business press (sample: Massachusetts health care costs out of control as ObamaCare provision hits small business, from Boston Business Journal), one would think that some horrible provision of the ACA is leading to increased health costs in Massachusetts. What's going on here? Aren't we the blueprint for Obamacare? Read more »

Blue Cross Foundation Updates ACA Implementation Chart

The Mass Blue Cross Foundation has helpfully maintained an ACA Tracking Tool, listing the various decision points facing Massachusetts as we implement the Affordable Care Act. The chart is the best snapshot of the myriad of complicated considerations and issues facing state policymakers. Even though the ACA is modeled after our Chapter 58 blueprint, the details vary considerably, and shoehorning the ACA into the Massachusetts context requires substantial policy alterations and decisions. The chart was just updated - you can get the new version from here. The chart includes links to documents... Read more »

Mass Receives Federal Innovation Grant To Advance Payment Reform

The federal CMS announced today that Massachusetts is one of 6 states awarded a State Innovation Models initiative grant (press release, and grant information). The Massachusetts award is for a not shabby $44 million. Read more »

Widmer and Lord Bring Mass Health Reform Lessons To Michigan

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/59602758] Last week, the University of Michigan’s Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation brought together key business leaders from Massachusetts and Michigan and experts from the University of Michigan to explore lessons from Massachusetts' experience with health reform and what may be ahead as the Affordable Care Act is implemented in Michigan. Read more »

Planning Underway for Connector Version 2.0

The Health Connector is holding steady as they prepare for full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Yesterday, the Connector Board voted on the draft 2013 Affordability Schedule, approved plans for the FY2014 Commonwealth Care renewal, and officially launched the 2014 Seal of Approval process. Materials from the meeting are here, and our detailed report is after the break. Read more »

Esquire: The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden... Is Screwed (Updated)

Last September we wrote about the crisis of uninsured veterans. A national study we helped with found that 1 in 10 veterans are uninsured (for more statistics, see this amazing graphic, excerpted below): Read more »

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