Keeping a Strong Consumer Voice in Implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Massachusetts

The Affordable Care Act could represent a step backward in coverage

    • November 21, 2013

Health Care for All led a broad-based Affordable Care Today coalition from May 2012 to April 2013 to ensure that an informed consumer voice contributes to policy discussions regarding implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts.

Dates of Project: May 2012 to April 2013

Problem Synopsis: When creating the 2010 Affordable Care Act, federal lawmakers borrowed broadly from the pioneering Massachusetts’ health reform law, passed in 2006. However, certain elements in the new federal law have the potential, if implemented, to be a step backward for Massachusetts residents, particularly for those with lower and middle incomes. As Massachusetts state officials and the legislature develop policies relating to the implementation of the federal law, a critical component of the process is providing them with nonpartisan information elucidating the consumer perspective.

Description: Staff members at Health Care for All:

  • Identified areas of conflict and opportunity between state and federal health reform laws
  • Researched the impact and feasibility of various implementation options
  • Developed policy proposals and public policy education materials that reflect consumers’ perspectives and priorities
  • Served on advisory committees and participated in meetings

Key Results: According to reports submitted to RWJF in 2013, the outreach and educational efforts by Health Care for All, in concert with the Affordable Care Today!! (ACT!!) Coalition helped to lay the groundwork for the following implementation decisions with respect to the ACA in Massachusetts:

  • Governor Deval Patrick's administration committed to supplementing federal insurance premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions for residents below 300 percent of the federal poverty level to keep their coverage affordable.
  • The Massachusetts Health Connector (the state agency that helps Massachusetts residents find health insurance coverage) proposed to uphold the state's individual insurance mandate, in addition to the federal mandate, to protect the more comprehensive state coverage standards.
  • MassHealth (the state program that administers Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program) plans to:
    • Maintain its existing level of benefits for HIV-positive individuals and women in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program, rather than lower them under the federal program
    • Standardize previously varied coverage for all pregnant women below 200 percent of the federal poverty level so that they have access to a full range of services during their pregnancies
    • Cover health care for certain legal immigrants who are ineligible under the coverage options of the ACA
    • Improve the continuity of coverage for enrollees during their transition to the federal program.