For Your Mass Health Info File – New Reports on Budget Funding and Provisions

MMPI - MLRI- MBPC masthead
They read the bills, so you don’t have to.

The collaboration between the Mass Medicaid Policy Institute, Mass Law Reform Institute and the Mass Budget and Policy Center continues to provide us with great summaries and insight into the often arcane provisions enacted into law as part of the budget process.

This stuff is complicated in Massachusetts for two reasons. First, in addition to an annual budget covering the fiscal year (starts on July 1), the legislature enacts each a number of additional, supplemental budget statutes during the year, including usually one after the fiscal year as ended. These “supps” add or subtract spending from the original budget, and are crucial to understanding how much agencies are authorized to spend for state programs. Health care programs are typically a major focus of these supplemental budgets. Second, budget laws include numerous legislative provisions apart from the funding allocations in the line item sections. Some of these legislative provisions complement budget provisions, but many are unrelated riders than hop on the budget train and get enacted into law along with the budget.

The MMPI/MLRI/MBPC team has put out two very helpful summaries of recent budget laws, superbly edited and formatted to make all this stuff very understandable and accessible.

First is MassHealth and Health Reform Funding in the FY 2013 General Appropriations Act (pdf) which charts out the FY 2013 budget numbers, categorizes the savings and additions assumptions built into the budget allocations, and summarizes all of the policy provisions that impact MassHealth, Commonwealth Care and other health programs. An appendix has a line-item by line-item listing of each of the applicable accounts, showing last year’s amount, the Governor’s request, and the final spending authorization.

Second is MassHealth and Health Reform Provisions in the June FY 2012 Supplemental Budget (Chapter 118) (also pdf). A budget law enacted in June (Chapter 118) included a host of provisions to implement the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts. The 3-page deftly explains each of the provisions. Included is a first-in-the nation legislative authorization for the Basic Health Program, an option that would allow Massachusetts to continue Commonwealth Care-like coverage for some low income people who don’t qualify for Masshealth.

Congrats to the threesome of groups that worked on these briefs.
-Brian Rosman

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