Big Decisions For Commonwealth Care

State administrators today discuss how to provide health care coverage for some of the most vulnerable residents in Massachusetts. WBUR's Martha Bebinger reports:

In a tough budget year, the Patrick administration is out with a strategy to maintain subsidized coverage for 174,000 low to moderate income residents.

While states around the country are trimming government health insurance, Secretary for Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez says Massachusetts will preserve near universal coverage.

"Our goal is to continue to provide coverage to everyone who is eligible for it, continue our nation leading record in access to affordable health care and to do in a way where we aren’t cutting benefits," he says.

But there’s no additional money for subsidized coverage, known as Commonwealth Care, and enrollment is expected to grow. In return for more members, Gonzalez is telling Commonwealth Care insurers they must provide the same care at lower costs. He says this is doable if the insurers limit where patients go and do a better job of managing care.

(Gonzalez will outline his plan for the next Commonwealth Care contracts at meeting of The Connector board today. He says he doesn’t expect any of the plans to stop participating in the program.)

Connector board member Dolores Mitchell, who is also Executive Director of the Group Insurance Commission, the agency that provides life, health, disability and dental and vision services to state employees, retirees and dependents, says Massachusetts, unlike other states, is not cutting benefits or limiting access to government insurance. "By and large we made a promise and we’re keeping it and I think that’s something to be proud of."

This program aired on February 10, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Rachel Zimmerman

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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