State House News Service report on a visit to Boston today by US Health & Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, who has final sign-off authority of renewal of Massachusetts Section 1115 Medicaid Waiver, the essential financing source for MA Health reform:
Citing fiscal constraints, the nation’s top health and human services official said Thursday that federal health care dollars for Massachusetts may be contingent upon “refinements” in the state’s delivery of health care. “I feel very confident that there will be refinements based on things we have learned,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt told reporters today.
In Boston to tout the city for its advances in health care technology, Leavitt said there are “financial constraints” on the federal level that may impact the amount of funds Massachusetts receives in its next three-year Medicaid waiver, a fiscal underpinning of the state’s 2006 health insurance expansion law. “We have to look at how best to meet our mutual objective but in the context of those financial constraints,” he said. The state’s current waiver expires at the end of June.
The secretary said he had had “lengthy discussions” with Gov. Deval Patrick and U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy regarding the state’s Chapter 58 health care reform law, which has come under pressure in the wake of surging costs and enrollment in a heavily subsidized program and slower tax revenue growth. Asked whether the federal government was satisfied with Massachusetts’ spending of health care dollars, Leavitt said, “Those are the discussions we’re having right now with the state. We need to have data on this to draw those conclusions. We have not yet drawn them.” Asked about the greatest challenges to implementing Massachusetts’s increasingly costly law, Leavitt said they were the same challenges facing the rest of the country, “escalating costs and no capacity to measure cost or quality.”