Connector Board Talks Budget, Accomplishments and Goals

Last Thursday, the Connector Board reviewed the agency’s FY2013 and FY2014 administrative budgets, looked back at FY2013 accomplishments and ahead to FY2014 goals, and announced the Navigator program grant awards.  Materials from the meeting can be found here. 

Before delving into details, Jean Yang started the meeting with program enrollment.  As of July 1st, 207,584 residents are enrolled in Commonwealth Care (an increase over June) and 39,575 are enrolled in Commonwealth Choice (a decrease from June).  

Health Connector FY2013 & FY2014 Budgets

The Health Connector’s FY2013 and FY2014 budgets are heavily influenced by Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation.  According to Yang, the ACA offers opportunities to strengthen the Connector in its efforts to bend the cost curve, create a robust marketplace, and improve the lives of real people.

ACA implementation is also a lot of work.  While the Health Connector’s ACA implementation work has been under way since 2010, the highest concentration of activities happens in FY2013 and FY2014.  Transitioning from Connector 1.0 to 2.0 involves a lot of vendor-assisted projects and short-term staffing increases.

Since 2010, the Commonwealth has secured over $270 million in support of ACA implementation.  Most of the upcoming ACA implementation activities involve a “one-time” investment.  Connector 2.0 will be more heavily weighted towards fixed costs, as they will own the IT system rather than outsourcing it, for example.

FY2013 Administrative Budget:  In July 2012, the Connector Board approved an FY2013 administrative budget of $42 million, with a projected loss of $4.3 million.  However, the current year-end projection indicates a net gain of $196,000, mostly due to greater offset of administrative expenses by federal grants.

FY2014 Administrative Budget:  FY2014 is a transition year, with the administrative budget reflecting three distinct segments:

  • Federally funded, one-time costs;
  • Connector 1.0 programs continuing and then phasing out; and
  • The new, ACA-compliant marketplace.

The FY2014 budget projection is largely dependent on enrollment estimates.  Health Connector membership is expected to decrease by 50,000 by June 2014, from about 248,043 to 200,000.  About 100,000 current Commonwealth Care members will move to MassHealth.  The Health Connector also expects to gain about 15,000 members from the Medical Security Program (MSP) members and about 37,000 members from the Health Safety Net, MassHealth and the private market.

Total expenses of nearly $113 million is projected for FY2014, including $78 million in predominantly one-time, fully federally funded ACA transition costs.  The Connector Board voted to approve the Health Connector’s proposed FY2014 administrative budget.

FY2013 in Review & FY2014 Goals

In FY2013, the Health Connector refined its goal-setting process to more clearly articulate their vision.  They developed four vision statements, each with corresponding goals and accomplishments:

  1. Become a Health Insurance Marketplace with a transformative Impact on health insurance for small businesses and individuals.
  2. Leverage the Health Connector’s health insurance procurement expertise to contain costs while ensuring comprehensive coverage within our own state-funded program and for other programs and partners.
  3. Expertly execute the Health Connector’s public policy and regulatory responsibilities.
  4. Embody the highest standards for organizational performance, transparency, and public and stakeholder engagement.

Health Connector staff shared highlights from FY2013 that demonstrate how the agency met its goals and corresponding visions.  They see FY2014 as a stepping stone towards achieving the multi-year visions set in FY2013, most of which will be heavily influenced by ACA implementation.

Navigator Program & Grant Awards

The ACA requires each state to establish and fund a navigator program.  Navigators are organizations or individuals trained and certified by marketplaces to provide outreach and enrollment assistance.  The Health Connector recently completed its navigator selection process and has allotted a total of $1.14 million for grants to navigator organizations.  The Health Connector sought organizations that demonstrated strong community relationships and experience with Health Connector programs.

Out of 31 applicants, 10 organizations were chosen:

  • Boston Public Health Commission
  • Caring Health Center
  • Community Action Committee of Cape Cod & Islands, Inc.
  • Ecu-Health Care
  • Greater Lawrence Community Health Center
  • Hilltown Community Health Center
  • Joint Committee for Children’s Health Care in Everett
  • Manet Community Health Center
  • MAPS – Mass Alliance of Portuguese Speakers
  • PACE – People Acting in Community Endeavors

Grantees are expected to provide innovative, comprehensive and multi-lingual outreach and enrollment services, and will be trained and certified by the Connector.

The next Connector Board meeting is scheduled for September 12, at 9:00am  August 8th at 9:00am [Edit: there is no August meeting], 1 Ashburton Place, 21st floor, Boston.

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