Obama Admin Rethinking Massachusetts Model? Part 2

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Obama and Deval 2

My now monthly blog post wondering if there will be agreement soon between the Obama Administration and the Patrick Administration on a multi-year extension of the Massachusetts health care waiver.

As a review, the Massachusetts MassHealth 1115 waiver from the federal government allowed the 2006 health reform to become a reality. The waiver was last negotiated by the Patrick Administration in 2008, and was extended until June 30, 2011 at that tome. Quietly this summer, the new deadline was pushed back three times, and is set to expire again tomorrow.

The Boston Globe’s Liz Kowalczyk and Chelsea Conaboy were kind enough to ask CMS Administrator Dr. Don Berwick about it in a recent interview:

Berwick would not comment on negotiations with Massachusetts over renewal of its federal health care financing package, known as the Medicaid waiver, which is crucial to the state’s mandatory health insurance law.

“We’re working through it as fast as we can,’’ he said. Part of what he’s looking for from Massachusetts and other states is a plan to improve care and cut costs for patients who have both Medicare and Medicaid coverage. They are a relatively small but very sick population that eats up 40 percent of state Medicaid budgets.

Dr. Berwick added another layer of complexity to the discussion, as state officials plan to file a waiver for so-called “duals” (those on both Medicare and Medicaid) in October. So, the question this month– are the two waivers connected, or separate?

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