A terrible week for health care
1. On Tuesday, Governor Baker asked the conference committee working out a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 to include language on an employer assessment that has been in the works since January. What has not gotten into the headlines: he also advanced a completely new proposal to cut MassHealth eligibility for non-disabled adults (primarily parents but also child-less adults) and authority to cut any optional benefits potentially affecting all MassHealth beneficiaries including children, people with disabilities and the elderly. The proposed eligibility cuts include:
denying MassHealth to non-disabled persons with access to "affordable" employer sponsored insurance (ESI). MassHealth says this will only apply to adults and that it will likely use the same affordability test for ESI offers as the one used by the Connector. Under that test a premium of $130 per month is "affordable" to a family of two making $1334 per month (with no affordability test applied to deductibles and cost-sharing)Â . Because MassHealth income levels are so low, this will primarily affect families with one full-time worker supporting one or more children. A single adult working full time at minimum wage earns too much for MassHealth today.
lowering the upper income limit for MassHealth eligibility for non-disabled adults from 133% of poverty ($1800 per month for a family of two) to 100% of poverty ($1354 for a family of two). MassHealth describes this as a transition to ConnectorCare for these adults --but some will not qualify for ConnectorCare (like veterans enrolled in the VA health system) and those that do transition will have fewer benefits and much higher co-payments. Also working poor families will lose out on a work incentive in the Medicaid program that continues Medicaid for 12 months after their earnings go up. This will primarily affect parents: 100,000 parents and 40,000 childless adults according to MassHealth.
Please call or write Senate President Rosenberg, House Speaker DeLeo or the co-chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Committees and Conference Committee Senator Karen Spilka and Rep. Brian Dempsey.
Urge them not to cut MassHealth eligibility and benefits in the FY 18 budget that will hurt working poor and near poor families!
More information including MLRI's letter to Legislators is posted here: /content/fact-sheet-letters-fy-18-conference-committee-last-minute-masshealth-reform-proposals
2. On Thursday, the Senate finally revealed a "discussion draft" of its version of Repeal and Replace" and as all the secrecy and haste suggested, the Better Care Reconciliation Act" would be devastating.
President Obama's eloquent critique is posted on his Facebook page here:
More details from Health Affairs' Tim Jost and Sara Rosenbaum here:
Community Catalyst's analysis here: https://drive.google.com/file/
What can you do? This is from our friends at Health Care for All:
Federal advocacy opportunities:
Continue to call your friends & family in other states and ask them to call their Senators. Click here for a fact sheet on our friends & family campaign.
Join the ACA defender campaign to call people in Maine and connect them by phone with Senator Collins's office.