HB101, An Act Improving Public Health Through a Common Application for Core Food, Health and Safety-Net Programs

Joint Committee on Children, Families & Persons with Disabilities

The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, on behalf of our member hospitals, health systems, physician organizations and allied health care providers, appreciates the opportunity to submit comments in support of HB101, “An Act Improving Public Health Through a Common Application for Core Food, Health and Safety-Net Programs.”

HB101 establishes the opportunity for MassHealth applicants and recipients - at the time of initial application or renewal – to have the ability to initiate a common application for MassHealth and for programs administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance, including the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps). It also requires the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and the Executive Office of Communities and Development to develop a common application portal for individuals to simultaneously apply for state-administered needs-based benefits and services in coordination with the Office of Medicaid, the Department of Transitional Assistance, the Department of Early Education and Care, the Executive Office of Education and the Department of Housing and Community Development.

MHA strongly supports enhanced access for low-income individuals to federal and state income-based support programs and therefore we support the intent of this legislation. Concurrently, we also believe that the voice of those who assist in the completion of these applications should be specified as participants in the development process. Massachusetts hospitals are the largest entry point for MassHealth applications and hospital financial counselors help enroll tens of thousands of individuals each year. The current enrollment form for an individual can take up to an hour to complete and hospital financial counselors are often stretched-thin assisting patients into coverage. The development process for a new common application must ensure that the administrative complexity of the process is diminished, and not increased. MHA urges the addition of language directing EOHHS to consult with hospitals, health centers and other enrollment professionals as part of the development process and to ensure that additional uncompensated administrative burdens are not imposed upon hospitals and other facilities that provide enrollment services as a result of the use of a common application.

Thank you for the opportunity to offer comments on this important matter. If you have any questions or concerns or require further information, please contact Michael Sroczynski, MHA’s Vice President of Government Advocacy, at (781) 262-6055 or msroczynski@mhalink.org.