Lawmakers Betting On Gambling To Help Fund Health Reform

Twenty-three percent of the money the state receives from casino and slot parlor licensing fees would go into a new Healthcare Payment Reform Fund.

Supporters of the fund, which is in both the House and Senate casino bills, hope to raise $40 to 50 million for the move to electronic health records and for other costs they say will eventually help the state spend less on health care.

The health care fund would get the largest single share of casino license fees with the balance going to community colleges, transportation, community mitigation and other projects. The House and Senate are still working on major legislation they hope will lead the state to better, more efficient and lower cost health care. But they are betting that some of the money they need will come from casino developers.

Legislative leaders aren’t sure exactly what the fund would be used for — it could also pay to retrain health care workers whose jobs change as the state overhauls health care spending.

The Senate had hoped to release its health care payment reform bill next month, but that schedule looks doubtful now. For letter-of-the-law types, here's the relevant section of the bill:

SECTION 91. (a) There shall be established and set up on the books of the commonwealth a Gaming Licensing Fund which shall receive all licensing fees collected from applicants in receipt of a category 1 or category 2 license under chapter 23K of the General Laws. The fund shall expire on December 31, 2015. The commission shall be the trustee of the fund and shall transfer monies in the fund as follows:;
(1) 10 per cent to the Community Mitigation Fund established in section 61 of chapter 23K of the General Laws.
(2) 14.5 per cent to the Transportation Infrastructure and Development Fund established in section 62 of chapter 23K of the General Laws.
(3) 11 per cent to the Local Capital Projects Fund established in section 2EEEE of chapter 29 of the General Laws.
(4) 15.5 per cent to the Manufacturing Fund established in section 96.
(5) 19.5 per cent to the Community College Fund established in section 97.
(6) 1.5 per cent to the Tourism Fund established in section 35J of chapter 10 of the General Laws.
(7) 23 per cent to the Healthcare Payment Reform Fund established in section 98.
(8) 5 per cent shall be remitted to the comptroller for deposit into the Local Aid Stabilization Fund, established in section 2CCCC of chapter 29 of the General 3285 Laws;
(b) Upon receipt by the Massachusetts gaming commission of license fees from licensees, interim transfers and payments shall be made on a pro rata basis from the Gaming Licensing Fund as provided in clauses (1) and (2) of subsection (a); provided, however, that no transfer or payment under said clauses (1) and (2) of said subsection (a) shall occur until the fund reimburses $20,000,000 to the Commonwealth Stabilization Fund as required by subsection (c) of section 92 of this act.

SECTION 98. There shall be established and set up on the books of the commonwealth a Healthcare Payment Reform Fund. The fund shall be credited with any monies transferred under section 91 and any monies credited or transferred to the fund from any other fund or source.

This program aired on October 17, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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