Gov. Baker targeting MassHealth for series of reforms

On Thursday Gov. Baker stated that he is planning on targeting MassHealth for a series of reforms. The program accounts for about 35 percent of the 36.5 billion dollar state budget.

“It’s critical not just for the MassHealth program but for the rest of health and human services and the rest of state government, and local government,” Gov. Baker said. “Because if we don’t solve that problem, we’re going to create all kinds of issues for ourselves everywhere else in the state budget.”

Enrollment in MassHealth was expected to hit 1.7 million in 2015. It cost an estimated $13.7 billion in the $36.5 billion fiscal 2015 budget. The health and human services secretariat budget, with MassHealth included, is about $19 billion. Gov. Baker’s first budget proposal, for fiscal year 2016, is due by March 4.

In tackling MassHealth, the new governor will be targeting a cost center in state government but also a program viewed as a critical safety net for many vulnerable populations. Over the years, Democrats who control the state Legislature have worked to protect and expand benefits under the program.

“We’re going to be making a lot of the data the state collects more publicly available, and we’ll be rolling that out over the course of the next few months through a series of initiatives,” Gov. Baker told reporters after the breakfast.

Jay Gonzalez, who served as Gov. Deval Patrick’s budget chief, attended the breakfast and agreed that the program is currently “unsustainable.”

*** Reporting for this post was taken from STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

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