At the EOHHS national health reform stakeholder meeting yesterday, the administration presented on the key upcoming decisions for implementing the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts, and their timeline for legislative consideration of required policy changes (download powerpoint).
The timeline calls for a series of stakeholder meetings and consultations through the fall, with many discussions deferred until more federal guidance is provided, particularly on the scope of minimum benefits that plans must provide. The administration plans to file legislation in January 2012. The goal is to get a law passed by the end of the 2012 formal session, July 31, 2012. This would give the Commonwealth the time needed to get federal approvals and set up to implement federal changes by January 1, 2014
Speaking of national health reform, Governor Patrick’s testimony in Washington on Tuesday focused on payment reform as the next step to bring costs under control for government and businesses. While the main topic of discussion was Medicaid, with the two Republican governors on the panel (Herbert of Utah, and Barbour of Mississippi) repeatedly asking for “flexibility,” Governor Patrick ably defended the Affordable Care Act as he parried questions. The video is linked from here; particularly worth watching are the supportive questions from Congressman Markey, at around 1:25 on video, and Governor Patrick’s honest compare and contrast put-down between Utah’s Exchange and the Mass Connector (Patrick: We have about 220,000 people who get their coverage through our Connector, our version of the exchange, I think that compares to – I think about 1500 in Utah? … Utah Governor Herbert: About a thousand. Patrick: … about a thousand. So it’s a slightly different scale. Because we made different choices.).