[The FY 2012 House budget proposal eliminates all funding for the Commonwealth Care Bridge program, which covers some 20,000 legal immigrants, and continues to limit dental benefits for 700,000 adults in the MassHealth program. HCFA will be working with our friends in the House to file amendments on these concerns. The budget also includes devastating cuts to public health; see the MPHA statement for more details. As always, the Mass Budget and Policy Center has the best instant analysis. In conjunction with the Mass Medicaid Policy Institute, they will have more detailed work-up of the health provisions.
HCFA Executive Director Amy Whitcomb Slemmer issued this statement:]
“We acknowledge that our state’s fiscal health has not fully recovered from the national economic downturn and appreciate Chairman Dempsey and the House Ways & Means Committee’s efforts to level fund essential health programs, such as the Children’s Medical Security Program. However, many of the proposed budget cuts will dramatically impact our state’s most vulnerable residents and, ultimately cost the Commonwealth more to treat these individuals who will no longer be able to access the preventive care they rely on.
“At a time when state leaders are exploring ways to improve the quality of health care delivered and create incentives to keep patients well, robust public health and preventive care services are critical. Continuing cuts to adult dental programs that serve low-income individuals and the elimination of early invention services for children as well as health coverage for more than 20,000 legal immigrants will not contain long-term health care costs. They will increase costs by unraveling our state’s public health infrastructure.
“Last year, adult dental benefits for low-income individuals were sharply reduced, which created signicant barriers to oral health care for 700,000 Massachusetts residents. We have heard loud and clear from consumers across the state who were impacted this cut that their overall health has suffered as a result. With lawmakers maintaining last year’s cuts to adult dental, the health of these consumers is at greater risk.
“We are also deeply concerned that the House eliminated the CommCare Bridge program which serves low-income legal immigrants living in Massachusetts. Defunding health coverage for more than 20,000 Massachusetts residents undermines our state’s commitment to health care reform and shifts the cost of their care to hospitals and providers. Leaving thousands of people without real insurance benefits will not save costs over the long term.
“Health Care For All will be working to reinstitute full funding for these critical programs and to ensure that we do not lose sight of the need to keep our state healthy by investing in preventive care.”
-Amy Whitcomb Slemmer