THE NUMBER OF MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENTS WHO WOULD QUALIFY FOR SUBSIDIZED HEALTH INSURANCE…AND THE COST OF THAT COVERAGE IS RISING…AGAIN. ESTIMATES FOR THE NUMBER OF RESIDENTS WHO WOULD QUALIFY FOR COMMONWEALTH CARE HAVE RISEN FROM 140-THOUSAND TWO YEARS AGO TO 225-THOUSAND EARLIER THIS YEAR TO NOW…255-THOUSAND. THAT REVISION(PG.28) WOULD INCREASE THE COST OF SUBSIDIZED COVERAGE FROM 869-MILLION TO ONE-POINT-ONE BILLION DOLLARS NEXT YEAR. RICK LORD REPRESENTS BUSINESS INTERESTS ON THE CONNECTOR BOARD.
I’m hoping that state estimate is on the high side because if it’s not, that obviously presents a challenging budget situation in what is already a challenging budget year.
LORD SAYS ENROLLMENT HAS BEEN LEVELING OFF IN RECENT MONTHS AS COMMONWEALTH CARE MEMBERS HAVE BEEN ASKED TO PROVE THEY ARE STILL ELLIGIBLE FOR THE PROGRAM. MOST STATE HOUSE LEADERS SAY IT IS TOO EARLY TO DISCUSS LIMITING COMMONWEALTH CARE ENROLLMENT.
THIS LATEST FINANCIAL FILING ALSO INCLUDES A HIGHER ESTIMATE FOR THE COST OF COMMONWEALTH CARE THROUGH THE END OF JUNE. THE SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET THE ADMINISTRATION FILED LAST MONTH ASKS FOR AN ADDITIONAL 153-MILLION DOLLARS, BUT HERE THE ADMINISTRATION PROJECTS IT WILL NEED AN ADDITIONAL $175 MILLION...BRINGING THE TOTAL COST FOR FY'08 TO 647-MILLION DOLLARS.
Update (after a conversation with Administration and Finance Secretary Leslie Kirwan):
Secretary Kirwan says the administration does not plan to revise the budget for next year until/unless the new enrollment numbers pan out. She stresses that there is a lot of uncertainty in both the coverage estimates and the budget. The higher numbers for Commonwealth Care and for Medicaid are based on current trends and do not factor in possible job cuts during a recession. Several Connector board members say that the next fiscal year will be particularly difficult because the cost of covering the uninsured is rising and savings from expanded coverage have not yet caught up.
This program aired on May 6, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.