Senate Begins Budget Debate

The Senate begins debating the FY 2011 budget today, with hundreds of amendments (772, to be precise) to consider. HCFA has worked with Senators on a number of vital amendments to maintain our progress on health care.

While state revenues continue to be tight, we know that cutbacks on health programs often lead to higher costs in future years. There are also some opportunities to improve health while raising needed revenue, such as closing the loophole that allows smokeless tobacco and other non-cigarette tobacco products to escape the excise tax increase increase. More broadly, the state must look at rebalancing its revenue provisions so that we can have the kind of public services needed for the Commonwealth to thrive.

Below are a number of our priority Senate budget amendments which are HCFA priorities. Click here for a list of all budget amendments arranged my topic area.

  • Amendment #569 – filed by Sen. Fargo, which strengthens the language around responsibilities and role of the Office of Health Equity.
  • Amendments #573 and #575 – filed by Sen. Fargo, which restores funding for DPH’s infection program and the division of health care quality and the office of Patient Protection.
  • Amendment #660 – filed by Sen. Chang-Diaz which provides additional funds for the Commonwealth Care Bridge program, the reduced benefits plan for legal immigrants. The SWM budget proposal was insufficient to cover all eligible legal immigrants, and will leave more than 13,000 eligible people without coverage.
  • Amendment #662 – filed by Sen. Chandler which protects dental benefits for adults in the MassHealth program (more info).
  • Amendment #691 – filed by Sen. Montigny to prohibit prescription drug data mining, where pharmaceutical companies buy doctors’ prescribing records from pharmacies and using that information to target their marketing to physicians, invading privacy and raising drug prices.
  • Amendment #693 – filed by Sen. Montigny to transfer $10 million from excess biotech subsidies and transfer the funds to the Prescription Advantage program for low income seniors
  • Amendment #706 – filed by Sen. Flanagan to establish a 12-month continuous eligibility period for children in MassHealth. This would reduce the churning of children who lose coverage for paperwork reasons.

-Mehreen Butt

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