A Healthy Blog

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

Private Market

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 »

Elizabeth Warren Named to US Senate Health Committee

Today the US Senate majority Democrats announced their committee assignments for the next Congress. While lots of attention was heaped on the appointment of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to the Banking Committee, we were thrilled to learn that she also was named to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, usually called the HELP Committee. Read more »

EHB Is The New MCC

State officials have begun the process of determining which health plan will serve as the essential health benefits (EHB) benchmark plan for Massachusetts. The EHB refers to the set of services that many health plans will be required to cover beginning in 2014 pursuant to §1302 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It applies to all non-grandfathered health plans in the individual and small group markets sold both inside and outside of Exchanges, as well as to Medicaid benchmark plans. Read more »

Lower Copays Create Better Patient Outcomes

A recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that the simple strategy of eliminating copayments may improve the quality of health outcomes for patients. The study, supported by the Commonwealth Fund, concludes that patients discharged from the hospital following myocardial infarction (heart attack) were more likely to take vital medications prescribed for their condition when copayments were waived. The patients with full coverage for their medications also experienced fewer heart attacks, strokes, and other vascular events during the study period, as compared with... Read more »

Blue Cross / Tufts Medical Center Impasse - Who's Looking Out for the Patients?

Today’s announcement that Tufts Medical Center and its physicians at the New England Quality Care Alliance (NEQCA), and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts hit a contracting impasse (see coverage from WBUR, and this personal story, and the Globe story), has our heads spinning. As advocates for creating a more patient centered health care system, we see today’s announcement as both a step in the wrong direction, and a clarion call for a more comprehensive solution to the problem of escalating health care costs. Read more »

More Stories of Closed Enrollment Crazyness

HCFA received many inquiries from last month’s original open enrollment blog post. We were right – a lot of education on the state’s closed enrollment situation needs to happen, not only for consumers, but also to all players in the health care world. We’ll do our part here by sharing the stories of our HelpLine callers impacted by Please use the comment section to share your experiences, comments, and questions. As always, you can also contact our HelpLine at 1-800-272-4232. Here’s this month’s story: Jill called the HelpLine excited about starting her new family. She was looking to get... Read more »

A federal escape valve for closed enrollment

Today I spoke with a man who has been put into a desperate situation caused by a hole in our health care system. Jim has been on Commonwealth Care for the past couple of years. He recently completed an annual renewal form for his coverage. MassHealth determined that he was no longer qualified for Commonwealth Care. The MassHealth Enrollment Center told him it was because he is now earning too much to qualify. Read more »

Must See Video, Yes. But Important Policy Meaning For Us, Too.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/28940439] Both WBUR's CommonHealth and the Globe's White Coat Notes have appropriately linked to this wonderful, creative and smart video, created by Gregory Warner of Marketplace. Read more »

Student Health Programs Advance, but Still Need Improvement. UMass Amherst Students Fight Back.

Though most university students are healthy, they are not immune from becoming seriously ill or injured. In fact, over 15% of young adults live with chronic health problems such as asthma, diabetes, or hypertension. In addition, it’s essential that people of any age should receive annual check-ups and preventive care. Rightly so, Massachusetts requires its students to have health insurance, either through their parents’ or work’s health plan, or through their school’s Student Health Program (SHP). This ensures that students both receive the preventive care they need and have protection should... Read more »

Want Lower Health Insurance Rates? Urge Senators to Preserve the Governor’s Vetoes.

Governor Patrick vetoed three sections in the Massachusetts FY 2012 budget to ensure the state has better control over escalating health care costs. Yesterday the House overrode the vetoes, and they will be coming up in the Senate soon, possibly today. Health Care For All urges the Senate to preserve the Governor’s vetoes because they are in the best interest of consumers. Here’s why: Read more »

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