Yesterday afternoon, EOHHS held its quarterly stakeholder meeting regarding implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Massachusetts (see presentations from the meeting).
Secretary Bigby opened the meeting with an overview of accomplishments in the first year since the ACA was passed. Already, the state has received $160 million in funding through ACA grants and demonstration awards. The largest grant is $110 million over the next 5 years through the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Grant Demonstration, which will be used to orient Massachusetts’ long-term care systems towards more community-based care.
Also, Massachusetts, in collaboration with the other New England states, was awarded $35.6 million through the Early Innovators Grant. The funds are being used to develop a technological platform to improve eligibility and enrollment, customer service, interactions with health plans and other administrative services.
The subsidized insurance workgroup has been formed to plan for changes in MassHealth, Commonwealth Care and other state programs that take effect in 2014. Robin Callahan of MassHealth, and Kaitlyn Kenney of the Health Connector, presented an update from the subsidized insurance workgroup. They have created guiding principles and outlined a timeline for assessment, design and implementation of subsidized insurance plans. The group has developed preliminary potential options (see above). Next steps include costing out the various options and feedback from stakeholders.
The ACT!! Coalition is vitally interested in the work of the group. We want to make sure that implementation advances the progress made in Massachusetts health reform. The state needs to bring in stakeholders into the decision-making process, rather than at the conclusory stages. It’s clear that legislation amending chapter 58 will be required to implement the ACA, and so stakeholder participation is vital at the policy formation stage.
As a guide to ACA implementation in Massachusetts, the Blue Cross Foundation has published their ACA Tracking tool (pdf). This resource lists many of the key ACA-relate coverage policy decisions facing the Commonwealth (full disclosure: HCFA helped prepare the tool, along with the Center for Health Law and Economics, at UMass Medical School). The Foundation plans to regularly update the document with the latest information as things develop.
-Emily Sobiecki and Brian Rosman