Gov. Baker Trims MassHealth Budget - NECN
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Gov. Baker Trims MassHealth Budget

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    Gov. Baker Trims MassHealth Budget

    Health care advocates worry how the new budget could affect Massachusetts' Medicaid program, which has 1.2 million subscribers, after the program's rate of growth was cut. (Published Thursday, March 5, 2015)

    Health care advocates continue to worry about how Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's budget could affect the state's Medicaid program, which has 1.2 million subscribers.

    Myechia Minter-Jordan is the President of the Dimock Center, the second largest health center in Boston.

    "About 70 percent our our patients are on MassHealth, and so we will definitely be impacted in the way in which we dedicate resources to our patients," she said.

    Minter-Jordan was watching closely when Baker announced his budget, especially about the impact it would have on the state's health care system - including $761 million out of MassHealth.

    What does it mean for low-income people who rely on MassHealth?

    "I think one of the things that I was reassured to see is that the eligibility requirements have not changed and will not change, according to Gov. Baker's plan," said Minter-Jordan.

    She also says she is pleased to see that services, including dental, will also remain intact with the exception of chiropractic services.

    Less clear is where that MassHealth savings is coming from. The Baker administration says almost 30 percent of the $761 million is contingent on reviewing the eligibility of the state's 1.2 million subscribers. It's called "redetermination."

    "'Redetermination' is just a wonky word that means we're going to have people, in this instance, reapply," said Health Care for All Executive Director Amy Whitcomb Slemmer. "Everyone's going to have to reapply for MassHealth."

    Whitcomb Slemmer says redetermination is normally done on a regular basis, but it's unclear how many people will be affected by it now because it hasn't been done for a year and a half.

    "What we worry about is anybody who is currently a MassHealth member, we worry they don't reapply," she said.

    Baker's critics are skeptical that MassHealth can actually achieve $800 million in savings, but many state health care advocates are feeling pretty good that more was not slashed from that Medicaid.

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