Massachusetts Miracle

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Will CommCare do estate recovery?

Community Partners, March 3, 2008

Kate Bicego, Helpline Manager at Health Care for All, writes that
CommCare has told the Helpline that CommCare members are not subject to
estate recovery.

What have you heard lately about estate recovery? Outreach workers have
said that for some clients it is a barrier to enrolling in MassHealth
... what are your clients saying about CommCare?

We'll be continuing this conversation at our Western HAN meeting in Amherst this Friday.

Best wishes,

Community Partners

phone:  413-253-4283

Who pays for health plan?

Harriette Seiler, Louisville, KY, Boston Globe, March 2, 2008 Critical
of the "minimal" penalties to be levied against employers who opt out
of Commonwealth Care, David Schreiber urges the state to raise the
sanctions against employers who do not (or perhaps cannot) provide
coverage for their workers ("Hit up relatively untapped source in health reform,"
Letters, February 25). He tells the Connector Authority to go "where
the money is." May I suggest that employers and employees alike, in
businesses large and small, are tired of taking the hit for costly

Who pays for health plan?

Richard Wittrup, Scituate, Boston Globe, March 2, 2008 I agree with Dorsey and Berwick
that capitation is the best way to pay providers of healthcare.
However, their accusation that insurance companies "hijacked" managed
healthcare is unfair. The detested interference by those companies in
medical decision-making was in response to the failure of provider
organizations to prevent the unnecessary use of expensive services. Or,
to put it in fewer words, in the failure of providers to manage care.
Like Dorsey and Berwick, I think capitation ought to be tried again.
But it will succeed only if providers are able and willing to be

Who pays for health plan?

Arnold S. Relman, MD, Boston, Boston Globe, March 2, 2008 Dr. Joseph
Dorsey and Dr. Donald Berwick's admiration of the kind of capitated
managed care provided by salaried physicians in the former Harvard
Community Health Plan is justified ("Dirty words in healthcare,"
Op-ed, February 27). So is their suggestion that this kind of care
might be just what our country needs. But they did not mention two
other critical features of HCHP, namely that it was not-for-profit, and
that physicians, not business people, managed the medical care ... Who

Who pays for health plan?

Frank Sargent, Carlisle, Boston Globe, March 2, 2008 Certainly the
Globe offers some credible commentary for controlling shared healthcare
costs under Commonwealth Care ("A fair share for healthcare").
However, there are some figures missing in your analysis. I run a small
construction company with fewer than nine employees, but have offered
health insurance for years, paying 50 percent of the premiums. As of
April 1, these premiums will increase by 30 percent (thank you, Blue
Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts). ... Who

Who pays for health plan?

Barbara Waters Roop, PhD & John D. Goodson, MD, Health Care for Massachusetts, Cambridge, Boston Globe, March 2, 2008 Your February 27 editorial "A fair share for healthcare"
calls on the Connector to leaven actuarial prudence with compassion.
I'd be happy to settle for actuarial prudence. Controlling costs by
pricing people out is not actuarially sound. As the Globe notes, even
the smallest price increases can create insuperable barriers ... Who

The uninsured & underinsured in MA need your help

Petition attached.
Ann Eldridge Malone, RN, Alliance to Defend Health Care

Obama criticizes health care mandate

Patrick lukewarm also. Glen Johnson, Associated Press, March 1, 2008
Boston - Barack Obama is no fan of the individual mandate that has been
central to the successful launch of the Massachusetts universal (sic) health
care law. He likes to cite its foibles as he criticizes his Democratic
presidential rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, for
including a similar mandate in her national health care plan. Gov.
Deval Patrick has been noticeably silent as Obama has leveled his
criticisms, as he did during a nationally televised debate this past
week. It turns out it's not just because he has endorsed his fellow
Chicagoan for president. ... Obama

In health insurance, the fox is watching the henhouse

Private companies care about health of bottom line. Richard Fiorini,
MD, Duxbury, Patriot Ledger, March 1, 2008 I fully agree with one
point in your editorial on controlling health care costs: “That’s what you get when you let the
health insurance industry write the reforms.” I would like to refer you
to a recent New England Journal of Medicine article that came out
February 7. The article, “Market-Based Failure – A Second Opinion on US Health Care Costs,”
refutes the notion that the market can optimize the efficiencies of
medicine. ... In

Bay State pulls back on health contracts

Officials struggle with rising costs of subsidized plan. Alice Dembner,
Boston Globe, February 29, 2008 State officials, struggling to keep
down the cost of the subsidized insurance program at the heart of
healthcare law changes, abruptly pulled back from new contracts with
insurers this week, according to three sources close to the bidding
process. The state canceled a meeting scheduled for yesterday at which
officials were expected to review the contracts and to vote on ways to
partially offset the costs. "The bids we received were not
satisfactory," the state's top budget officer, Leslie Kirwan ... Bay

Massachusetts hospitals win suit on Medicare

Reimbursement must be refigured. Jeffrey Krasner, Boston Globe,
February 29, 2008 A group of Massachusetts hospitals are closer to
collecting up to $200 million from the federal government after a
federal judge ruled in favor of the hospitals in a long-running dispute
over Medicare reimbursement rates. Sixty-two hospitals sued US
Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt, claiming his
department used the wrong method to calculate Medicare reimbursements.
In particular, the hospitals said the government used the wrong wage
index. ... Massachusetts

A look at the details of the state's health insurance program

Associated Press, February 28, 2008 Boston - Massachusetts universal
(sic) health care law aims to ensure all state residents have some form
of health insurance through a variety of programs. The concern now is
that rising costs for some of those covered by the Commonwealth Care
program may prompt even larger premium hikes than projected or greater
cost for the state. Here are details on what residents of differing
income pay ... A

New Federal Poverty Level guidelines are out

Community Partners, February 28, 2008 As of March 1, new income
guidelines will go into effect for MassHealth, Commonwealth Care, the
Health Safety Net and other subsidized health care programs. The new
income levels determine not only eligibility for these programs, but
also premium amounts for MassHealth and Commonwealth Care. The changes
reflect new Federal Poverty Level (FPL) guidelines updated in January.
Both Health Care For All and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
have provided charts applying the new standards to a range of
Massachusetts programs. ... New

Mandates versus Affordability

Nathan Newman, TPM Café, February 27, 2008 The whole dustup this
weekend over mandates and affordability in health care between Clinton
and Obama just begs the question - are we really going to impose a
mandate to buy health care on working people if it's not affordable,
and if health care is truly affordable, do people think any but a small
group will not get coverage? The key issue is what counts as
"affordable" health care, and it's not just cheap premiums, since
"cheap" insurance just means large numbers of people go bankrupt in
out-of-pocket expenses. ... Mandates

Commonwealth Care premium hikes off - for now

Charley on the MTA, Blue Mass Group, February 27, 2008 Patrick
administration Admin. & Finance Sec. Leslie Kirwan postpones the
Connector board meeting for tomorrow. They were going to consider the
14% increases in premiums and big increases in co-pays for the
subsidized Commonwealth Care health insurance. In the press release,
she doesn't really mince words as to why ... Commonwealth

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