Back to School for the Connector Board

The Connector Board met on Friday afternoon, returning from their August break. Materials from the meeting can be found here.

Glen Shor kicked off the meeting with a quick Executive Director’s report. As of September 1st, CommCare has 155,142 members, an increase of 607 members from August. Shor noted that previous months’ decreasing enrollment is typical during open enrollment, which occurred in June.

CommChoice currently has 36,649 paid members. Shor attributed the fluctuation in CommChoice memberships over the past few months to counting only paid members and billing idiosyncrasies. Shor expects that there will be a more stable membership moving forward as a result of rate settlements between DOI and carriers.

Shor and Nancy Turnbull also pointed out results from this year’s Current Population Survey, which was released yesterday. The rate of uninsurance rose substantially across the nation, except in Massachusetts (we covered this too).

As a first order of business, the Board unanimously approved a two-year extension of the Connector’s contract with Dell Systems, which performs call center, enrollment and premium billing functions for Commonwealth Care.

Next, Bob Nevins presented the Connector’s FY11 plan of operations, outlining the organization’s program, policy, administrative/organizational, and national health reform implementation goals. As part of the goal to enhance members’ experience, Celia Wcislo suggested the Connector look into the reasons why people may be wrongfully denied eligibility for CommCare and why some members are wrongfully terminated.

At the end of the presentation, Board chair Jay Gonzalez reiterated Dolores Mitchell’s point that the Connector should be focusing on opportunities for cost control (and reduction). Turnbull requested that the Board and staff discuss Board development as one of the FY11 goals; she also requested that Connector staff provide regular updates to the Board on CommCare Bridge and the Student Health Insurance program.

Last, Joan Fallon presented key provisions from Chapter 288 (the small business health care cost bill) that impact the Connector. Among the sections that impact the Connector are:

  • Small Business Wellness Incentive Program: With a $15 million budget, the amount of subsidy the Connector will be able to provide depends on how many small businesses come through the Connector. Rick Lord commented that this section is a good idea; Terry Dougherty commented that this section does not address the underlying cost of premiums. Jon Gruber and Wcislo commented that the Connector should create an evaluation framework to judge this provision’s success.
  • Broker Added to the Connector Board: Wcislo suggested that the Connector look into conflict of interest issues here.
  • MCC Notice: the statute requires the Connector to give 90 days notice to the Legislature before making any changes to Minimum Creditable Coverage.
  • DOR/Connector Outreach Provision: Stipulates that the Connector cannot utilize any data received from DOR for solicitations or advertising.
  • Special Commissions: the Administration and Finance Secretary and Connector ED are named to commissions, including Special Commission on Provider Price Reform, Special Commission to Study the Impact of Reducing the Number of Health Benefits Plans That a Carrier May Maintain, and Administrative Simplification Working Group.
  • Open enrollment periods: DOI will establish two open enrollment periods for the individual market, intended to address concerns about individuals jumping in and out of coverage.
  • Limited/Tiered Networks: Connector will evaluate potential inclusion in Seal of Approval process.
  • Small Group Purchasing Cooperatives: Up to 6 cooperative with total enrollment of 85,000 lives permitted. Shor clarified that the Connector could potentially be a distribution center for a small group cooperative. Turnbull, Duncan, and Gruber voiced strong opposition to small group purchasing cooperatives (also known as association health plans), citing the grave harm splitting off these groups will do to the individual and small group merged market, ultimately raising prices.

With that, the Connector Board went into executive session. The next Board meeting is on October 14th.
-Suzanne Curry

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