July 27th, 2006 04:01 EST
HHS Approves Massachusetts Plan to Extend Health Care to More Residents
More Massachusetts residents who are battling HIV disease or those who are chronically uninsured will have access to Medicaid health services according to an approval granted today by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt.
Secretary Leavitt has approved a plan that will increase the enrollment cap in the state’s Medicaid 1115 waiver known as “MassHealth” from 770 enrollees to 1,300. Enrollment caps for long-term or chronically unemployed and therefore uninsured residents will be lifted from the current 44,000 to 60,000 with today’s approval. The amendments to the state’s MassHealth program will also increase the income level for low-income workers to help them purchase employer-sponsored health plans.
“Massachusetts has led the way in getting health care to citizens who would otherwise not have access to regular health care services,” Secretary Leavitt said. “Through today’s announcement, I am pleased to assist Governor Romney toward his goal of providing affordable health care to Massachusetts residents.”
Today’s expansion of the health plan for the chronically uninsured, the “Essential” plan will allow the state to remove 12,000 individuals from the current waiting list for services.
Low-income workers who receive help buying employer-sponsored group health plans will see income eligibility rise from the current 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($40,000 for a family of four) to 300 percent of poverty ($60,000 for a family of four). This will allow more workers to participate in job-based insurance rather than relying on the taxpayer funded safety net care pool that operates in the state with a mix of federal and state dollars.
The MassHealth 1115 waiver program currently provides health care services to over one million state residents and has reduced the number of uninsured individuals in the state by 40 percent.