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Action Alert & Update

Health Update –July 19, 2022

Action Alert: Senate Votes on Economic Development and Tax Relief Bill Thursday -- Calls Needed on Amendment #366 to Limit MassHealth Estate Tax on the Poor

Last week the House voted on a massive Econ Development & Tax Relief Bill and now it moves to the Senate. Both the House bill and SWM are offering estate tax relief for people with estates of over $1 million. Sen Jo Comerford, lead Senate sponsor of a pending bill to reform MassHealth estate recovery, is filing an amendment to limit MassHealth estate recovery which in many ways is an insidious estate tax levied just against the poor. The Senate vote is expected this Thursday July 21. With the formal session ending on July 31, time is running out

Please call your Senator to co-sponsor Sen Comerford’s amendment 366 to S.3018 to limit the MassHealth estate tax on the poor. A Fact Sheet is attached.  

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Conference Committee agrees on the FY 2023 Budget

A few of the highlights in the FY 2023 conference budget  headed to the Governor’s desk include:

·         Increase in Medicare Saving Programs upper income limits to 250% of the poverty level

Section 55 increases the income limits for the Medicare Savings Programs that pays for Medicare beneficiaries Part B premiums from the current upper limit of 165% of the poverty level to 225% of the poverty level.  In January, the administration had proposed an increase to 200% FPL effective Jan. 1, 2023 to benefit 34,000 Medicare beneficiaries. 

·         Two-year pilot program to raise the income limit for help with insurance costs through the Health Connector to 500% of the poverty level

Section 133 creates a pilot program from June 1, 2023 to May 31, 2025 to increase the upper income limit of ConnectorCare from the current cap of 300% of the federal poverty level to 500%  of the poverty level .  It will make coverage more affordable for 37,000 people according to Health Care for All.

Affordable coverage in 2023 will also be affected by federal developments. The American Rescue Plan Act temporarily lifted the 400% of poverty income cap on federal premium assistance and made assistance more generous for 2021 and 2022. If Congress fails to continue those changes, it will mean a big increase in costs in 2023. However, expectations are high that there will be some sort of extension in a budget reconciliation bill before the federal fiscal year ends Sept 30. 


·         In other great news on the budget–it extends universal free school meals to all school children in the state and raises TAFDC and EAEDC cash assistance grants by 10 percent.

Another 90 day extension of the Public Health Emergency.

·         As expected the COVID-19 public health emergency has been extended for another 90 days to mid-October 2022. The HHS Secretary has promised to give a 60 day advance notice of the end of the COVID-19 PHE so we should know by mid-August whether to expect another extension beyond mid-October. 

·         During the PHE MassHealth members are protected from losing benefits subject to only a few exceptions, and the state receives an enhanced federal matching rate for its Medicaid spending. MassHealth has tied various other “flexibilities” to the duration of the PHE including self-attestation of income and assets and 3-month retroactive eligibility for people under 65 not just those 65 and older. See our Table of COVID-19 changes for more information on health policies in place during the public health emergency.

EOHHS announces the names of 25 newly designated Community Behavioral Health Centers (CBHCs)

Community Behavioral Health Centers (CBHCs) were a feature of EOHHS’s 2021 Roadmap To Behavioral Health Reform. The procurement for CBHCs went out in Feb 2022 and EOHHS recently announced the designation of 25 Centers across the state for services to begin in January 2023. All MassHealth managed care entities as well as ConnectorCare plans will be contracting with CBHCs. More information is on the MBHP website here.  The July 8, 2022 announcement is set out below.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Selection of Community Behavioral Health Centers 


Today, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services announced a significant milestone in the implementation of the Roadmap for Behavioral Health Reform and the Administration’s commitment to improving access to behavioral health treatment for residents of the Commonwealth. The designation of 25 Community Behavioral Health Centers (CBHCs) will expand access to routine, urgent, and crisis treatment for mental health conditions and substance use disorders starting in January 2023. 


The designated Community Behavioral Health Centers will provide same-day evaluation and referral to treatment, evening and weekend hours, timely follow-up appointments, and evidence-based behavioral health treatment, in person at their community-based locations and via telehealth. The statewide network of Community Behavioral Health Centers will deliver 24/7 community-based mobile crisis intervention and stabilization, as an alternative to hospital emergency departments. These Centers will serve all ages and all communities across the Commonwealth.  


Also in January 2023, the Commonwealth will launch a 24/7 Behavioral Health Helpline that will provide clinical assessment, triage and referral to treatment, including deploying 24/7 mobile crisis intervention teams operated by Community Behavioral Health Centers.  


The following providers have been selected for designation as Community Behavioral Health Centers:  





·  Advocates 

·  Community HealthLink 

·  Riverside Community Care 

·  Clinical Support Options 


·  Beth Israel Lahey Behavioral Health Services  

·  Vinfen 

·  Eliot Community Human Services 

Metro Boston 

·  Riverside Community Care 

·  Aspire Health Alliance  


·  Clinical Support Options 

·  Behavioral Health Network  

·  Center for Human Development 

·  The Brien Center 


·  High Point 

·  Child and Family Services 

·  Community Counseling of Bristol County 

·  Bay Cove Human Services 

·  Fairwinds 


Full details on CBHCs can be found here

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