"New Safety Net Regulations Strike Right Balance" by Michael J. Widmer

The issuance of proposed regulations governing the Health Safety Net Trust Fund represents another critical step in implementation of the state's landmark health reform law. As with the affordability schedule and minimum creditable coverage standards, the Health Safety Net regulations represent a balance among competing needs and interests.

In our view, the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy has struck just the right balance – providing a legitimate safety net for low-income individuals who do not have access to affordable coverage on the one hand, while not creating a disincentive for individuals to purchase health insurance on the other.

Reforming the Uncompensated Care Pool, the precursor to the Safety Net Trust Fund, was a driving force behind health reform – moving the uninsured from "free care" into health insurance with its broader range of services and better medical care. The regulations help achieve this goal by promoting enrollment in affordable health insurance coverage in a way that is consistent with MassHealth and Commonwealth Care.

The funding of health reform critically depends on reducing the cost of free care so those dollars can be used to subsidize coverage for lower-income individuals.
The transfer of funds from uncompensated care to an insurance-based system is also an absolute precondition to negotiating a new federal waiver and securing all-important federal dollars that are essential to the success of health reform.

Michael J. Widmer
Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation

This program aired on August 24, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.


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