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"Health Reform and the Department of Revenue" by Leslie Kirwan

All eyes are on Massachusetts as we work to make our historic health care reform law a success, and many of them are trained on the Connector. That’s no surprise, given the challenging and controversial policy issues with which the Connector has wrestled (minimum creditable coverage, affordability), the key role played by Connector insurance programs in expanding coverage (Commonwealth Care and Commonwealth Choice), and the very public way in which the Connector makes decisions.

However, the Connector is hardly the only state player involved in implementing health reform. Our “team” includes MassHealth (expanding health coverage for children and others and leading the charge on renewing our Medicaid waiver), the Division of Insurance (implementing new health insurance rules), the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (issuing “fair share” and “free rider” regulations and designing new eligibility rules for the Uncompensated Care Pool), and the Division of Unemployment Assistance (collecting “fair share” payments and Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure forms from employers).

There’s also another state agency that those not familiar with Chapter 58 might least suspect to be involved with health reform, but in fact plays a critical role: our state’s Department of Revenue (DOR). DOR is vested with major responsibilities associated with implementing our new “individual mandate” requiring adults who can afford health insurance to have it. It will create and issue the tax forms through which Massachusetts residents will declare whether or not they have health insurance; work with the Connector in implementing a fair and efficient process for “hardship appeals”; and collect penalties from those who truly can afford insurance but do not have it.

DOR has already posted on its website a first draft of the tax form that Massachusetts residents will have to file early next year, declaring whether or not they had health insurance as of December 31, 2007. It will soon post a draft of the instructions that accompany this form. Commissioner Henry Dormitzer and DOR staff welcome comments and suggestions on these documents, through emails to DOR’s Forms Manager at fordp@dor.state.ma.us. Please take advantage of this opportunity to weigh in on an important part of health reform.

Leslie Kirwan
Connector board chairwoman
Secretary of Administration and Finance for Governor Deval Patrick

This program aired on August 16, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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