Today the state House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to Governor Patrick’s legislation to implement the ACA in Massachusetts.
We urge legislators to support the bill. In addition to a passel of technical changes, the bill expands the ability of workers and young adults to get coverage, and reconfigures the state’s coverage assistance programs to fit the ACA requirements. The new subsidized coverage programs protect the gains established since 2006, and allow additional low-income families who are now locked out of coverage to get the assistance they need.
We do support a number of clarifying amendments consistent with the intent of the bill and current practice. For example, we propose that the bill carry over some consumer affordability protections that now exist in the Commonwealth Care program. These include the ability to establish payment plans and request premium hardship waivers if someone gets behind on premiums.
We also support writing into law the administration’s decision not to allow insurers to add surcharges on to the premiums of tobacco users (background here), and provisions strengthening the role of the Office of Patient Protection. We also are working to establish a transparent, accountable budgetary fund to receive and allocate the additional federal funds Massachusetts will be getting through the ACA.
We will be calling on legislators to support these and other amendments as the bill progresses. Contact Suzanne Curry for more information or to get involved.