A Healthy Blog

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

States

No B.S.: California Video Explains Why Health Budget Cuts Don't Make Sense

The video below, produced by the New America Foundation (home of the outstanding New Health Dialogue blog), explains why health program budget cuts are bad for people and the economy. The video details are all about California, but the reasoning applies equally to Massachusetts. Watch it: Read more »

Mass Scores High On Kid's Health

Today, The Commonwealth Fund released its national rankings of child health performance (report here, and way cool interactive map here). Each state was evaluated on dimensions such as access, quality, costs, and "potential to lead health lives." Massachusetts ranks as one of best states for children’s health. We received #1 rankings in Access (number of uninsured children) and Quality (rate of vaccinations, preventative care visits, access to a medical home, etc.). However, there is still room for significant improvement in the area of cost, where Massachusetts ranks 47. Overall, we were... Read more »

A Cautionary Tale from CT on Medicaid Managed Care Plans

According to today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required): "Disclosure Push Roils State Medicaid Program," the small number of managed care plans in the Connecticut Medicaid program are heading for the door or have already left. Could something like this happen here? Hard to imagine. Then again, hard to imagine in CT: The dispute began in late 2004 when Sheldon Toubman, a staff attorney at the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, filed a request under Connecticut's freedom of information law to get health-maintenance organizations to disclose how often the HMOs' computers... Read more »

AG Coakley Files Brief Challenging New Bush Medicaid Rules

Martha Coakley is weighing in against new CMS rules limiting the aiblity of states to expand their SCHIP eligibility levels. Excerpts from her release below: BOSTON – Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office filed an amicus brief in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey supporting New Jersey’s challenge to a new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services policy limiting the states’ ability to use federal money to fund health insurance for low-income children. The amicus brief argues that an August 17, 2007, letter sent from the Centers for Medicare &... Read more »

4/17-18 Conference on Women & Health Reform

Simmons College will host a national conference on women and health care reform, April 17 and 18. The conference is organized by Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, a collaboration of the National Women’s Health Network, the Avery Institute for Social Change and MergerWatch. The goal is to inform and mobilize women to work for quality, affordable health care for all in their home states and in Washington DC. Speakers include former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders; Byllye Avery, founder of the Black Women’s Health Imperative and the Avery Institute for Social Change; Community... Read more »

SF Restaurants Begin Adding Health Insurance Surcharge to Tabs

Many restaurants in San Francisco are adding surcharges to their customer bills to cover their mandatory assessments under the SF universal coverage law. The LA Times covers the new development "Social Policy on the Menu," excerpt below: In the hip South of Market neighborhood, the menu at Tres Agaves, a popular Mexican restaurant and tequila bar, has a small message at the bottom of the first page that says, "3.5% service charge will be added to all checks for the San Francisco affordable healthcare legislation." At issue is the city's new effort, kicked off Jan. 9, to provide healthcare... Read more »

Northwest Passages II: Washington -- This Is Good.

Second article from today's Kaiser Health Policy Report: Washington: The Washington House on Friday voted 68-21 to pass a bill (SB 5261) to require insurers to receive approval from the state insurance commissioner before changing premium rates for individual health plans. Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) is expected to sign the bill. In January, the Senate voted 31-18 to approve the measure. The bill would give state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler the ability to reject "unreasonable" rate proposals and compare insurers' claims costs with projections. He also would be able to order insurers to... Read more »

Northwest Passages I: Oregon -- This Is Good?

Two stories of note from the Pacific Northwest in today’s Kaiser Health Policy Report. First: Oregon will begin drawing names this week in a lottery to determine who will fill open slots in the Oregon Health Plan. More than 80,000 people have registered for the lottery since it opened in January, but only a few thousand slots are available. People selected will be eligible for a standard benefit program that provides coverage for basic health services, medications, and limited dental, hospital and vision care. The program is intended for people whose incomes are too high to qualify for... Read more »

Good Obituary on CA Health Reform

Straightforward, thorough, and balanced account of the California health reform fiasco by Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee: "The death of health care reform: How Arnold Schwarzenegger's overhaul plan was doomed by the Legislature's liberal-conservative partisan crossfire." Money quote is at the very end: But ultimately the bill died because Schwarzenegger was the only one in the Capitol who truly believed in it from the beginning, and Núñez's late support was not enough to pull it across the finish line. California's Legislature is dominated by leftist Democrats and right-leaning... Read more »

RWJF/Packard Team Up on $30M State Coverage Initiative

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation have announced complementary $15 million grantmaking initiatives to strengthen state health reforms to cover uninsured children and families. Together, Packard's Finish Line Project and RWJF's Consumer Voices for Coverage will provide a total of 18 advocacy organizations in 14 states with significant technical and financial resources. Consumer Voices for Coverage will concentrate on state healthcare reform initiatives, while the Finish Line Project will work to provide coverage for all children. The five-year, $15... Read more »

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