The House Ways & Means Committee version of the FY2019 state budget is expected to be released by the Committee this Wednesday. The release is considered to be the kick-off of the legislature’s budget season for FY2019, after Governor Baker filed his proposed budget earlier in January.
MHA will be keeping a watchful eye on the budget to determine how hospital priorities have been considered in the House Ways & Means proposal. One significant provision in the governor’s budget was his proposal to transition 140,000 MassHealth enrollees to ConnectorCare plans effective January 1, 2019. In its letter to Ways & Means Chairman Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez (D-Mission Hill), MHA reiterated its support for the proposal in conjunction with the creation of statutory protections for low-income patients to ensure they maintain comprehensive and affordable health coverage. The proposed transition requires approval from both the legislature and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
MHA also prioritized the restoration of the state’s statutorily required $30 million contribution to the Health Safety Net Trust Fund, and the improvement of payment adjustments in the MassHealth reimbursement methodology for Disproportionate Share Hospitals. MHA also highlighted behavioral health funding, including funding to support community engagement of mental health and substance use disorder patients and loan forgiveness programs for recent clinical graduates in behavioral health professions.
Once the House Ways & Means budget is unveiled, House members will have the opportunity to file amendments. Debate on those amendments is expected the week of April 23.