MLRI’s Health Care Unit is committed to ensuring that all low-income and vulnerable individuals and families have access to affordable, quality health care. Our advocates work with state agencies, community-based groups and administration officials to strengthen the state’s groundbreaking health care reform law, increase access to coverage, and prepared for new opportunities that were created with the implementation of national health reform in 2014.
Keeping Health Care Affordable:
MLRI and its community partners advocated with state agency officials to design a system where the current state health reform standards of affordability are maintained during the transition to new health reform initiatives that became effective in January 2014 as a result of the Affordable Care Act. By leveraging smaller, but continued, investments in state dollars, combined with new federal ACA dollars, we were able to increase the number of people who will receive subsidized health care, further reducing levels of uninsurance in the state while preserving the progressive nature of our affordability commitment.
Removing Administrative Barriers to Health Care:
MLRI continues to advocate for new policies designed to reduce administrative complexities and promote better coordination and potential integration of numerous state-subsidized programs. By doing so, MLRI is helping to:
•Eliminate administrative barriers that discourage or erroneously deny eligible individuals from securing state subsidized health coverage;
•Address gaps in coverage individuals experience when transitioning between different state programs;
•Promote greater equality in the benefits offered by various state programs; and
•Reduce overall administrative costs.
MLRI played a lead role in pushing for legislation that required the state’s MassHealth (Medicaid) agency to allow U.S. citizens to verify their citizenship using their Social Security number rather than more onerous documentation, such as a passport or birth certificate which are often difficult for very low-income individuals to obtain. Prior to MLRI’s advocacy, MassHealth estimated that more than 20,000 citizens were unable to access coverage due to excessive verification requirements.
Beginning in January 2014, new eligibility programs, including a significant increase in the number of poor people became eligible for Medicaid and replaced a patchwork of complicated programs that have developed over the years of piecemeal reform efforts. MLRI's advocacy ensures that administrative procedures are streamlined and eligibility rules simplified so that the maximum number of low income Massachusetts residents can make the best use of a less complicated system of care.
Preserving Access to Health Care for Immigrants:
Working with the ACT coalition, MLRI had made progress in its key goal of assuring that over 40,000 immigrants who transitioned from Commonwealth Care to the Exchange in 2014 retain affordable coverage. We advocated with the administration and the legislature that sufficient funds are included to protect this vulnerable group.
Implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts:
MLRI’s health care advocates work with policy makers, the Connector Authority, and other officials to ensure that we maintain those aspects of the state law which are more beneficial, particularly with respect to minimum standards of affordability as we work to incorporate broader aspects of the ACA which improve the state’s current health care system. By combining the best aspects of both the state and federal laws we can provide the best possible health care for Massachusetts’ residents.