House Votes on MHA Budget Priority to Restore MassHealth Funding

The Massachusetts House on Wednesday voted to restore the $220 million to MassHealth that Governor Charlie Baker had vetoed out of the $39.4 billion state budget he had signed in July.

The MassHealth funding restoration was part of $275 million in budget cuts the House overrode Wednesday night. The Senate is expected to take up the overrides later this fall.

In an August 1 letter to legislative leaders, MHA had pushed for the restoration of the $220 million to MassHealth. MHA had argued that the governor had argued that the MassHealth cut would be necessary if an increase in the employer assessment was not approved. That employer assessment was, in fact, ultimately approved.

“In our opinion, the legislature’s budget was balanced with the inclusion of the $200 million employer contribution, and now with its restoration there is no valid reason for the $200 million reduction ...,” MHA wrote.

In remarks on the House floor reported by State House News Service, Ways & Means Committee Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez (D-Mission Hill) defended the veto override despite uncertainty with revenue collections. “We believe the spending vetoes cut too deeply to important programs and services our communities rely on,” Sánchez said. “We will restore funding for pediatric palliative care, HIV/AIDS treatment, for MassHealth to ensure full funding of the projected caseload, and for senior health care. The conference report was a balanced budget that reflected our priorities and today we will return several accounts to the conference committee levels.”