A soda tax. Restoration of full dental benefits for adults on MassHealth. More inspectors for compounding pharmacies and a small boost in overall public health funding. Governor Deval Patrick’s 2014 budget is far-reaching on health care, reigniting the debate on some familiar issues and proposing new fixes to some of the problems that have plagued his administration over the past year.
The proposed budget also includes money to help the state further implement the health care cost-control bill passed last summer and comply with the federal Affordable Care Act. Here are a few highlights. For more, see his budget brief on the topic:
-- The new Center for Health Information and Analysis, which is responsible for tracking health care spending in Massachusetts, would get a bump of $2.8 million for a total budget of $24.8 million. Overall, according to an e-mail from the governor’s office, the budget includes $34 million in new funding dedicated to implementing the cost bill, which is expected to produce billions in savings for the state over the next decade.
-- The state’s subsidized insurance market known as Commonwealth Care soon will go away, as the state shifts to a new system under the federal law. Many who get their insurance through that program today will qualify for MassHealth, as will those now enrolled in the state Medical Security Program for the unemployed. To account for the growth in MassHealth, the governor's budget includes a 13 percent budget increase to about $12.3 billion, though much of that increase could be shifted from the other programs. MassHealth also will receive $1.5 million to continue a program for modeling and preventing fraud.
-- The State Auditor’s Office would receive an additional $863,000 to monitor the effects of the cost-control law.