Massachusetts administers much of MassHealth through an 1115 Demonstration waiver, approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which it has extended several times since it was originally approved in 1995. In December 2021, Massachusetts submitted a request to CMS to extend its Demonstration for another five years.
Delivery System/Safety Net
UPDATED! Promoting Access to Care and Coverage During a Public Health Crisis: COVID-19–Related Changes Affecting MassHealth, Health Connector, and Health Safety Net
Massachusetts, with support from the federal government, has implemented several policy and programmatic changes intended to promote continued access to health care services and health insurance coverage during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This table serves as a centralized resource that documents and describes the policy, regulatory, and administrative actions pertaining to MassHealth, Health Connector programs, and the Health Safety Net.
The End of the Federal Continuous Coverage Requirement in MassHealth: Key Strategies for Reducing Coverage Loss
This issue brief aims to educate stakeholders and policymakers about an upcoming federal policy change that could impact coverage for many MassHealth members. Like all states, Massachusetts received enhanced federal Medicaid funding under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the first major federal stimulus package passed by Congress in response to the COVID-19 crisis in 2020. As a condition of receiving these funds, Massachusetts is required to maintain continuous coverage in MassHealth during the federal COVID-19 public health emergency.
In December 2021, Governor Baker signed Chapter 102 of the Acts of 2021 into law. This legislation, often referred to as the “ARPA bill,” appropriates close to $4 billion, including $2.55 billion in funding directly from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ARPA was passed in March 2021 to provide money to states to start recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chapter 102 invests money from ARPA in many areas, including housing, infrastructure, education, and economic development.
Addressing timely access to behavioral health care through the adoption of open access methods supports the well-being of people with behavioral health conditions, improves staff productivity, and increases financial stability for provider organizations. However, no study has previously documented the experience of provider organizations using this model in Massachusetts.
This five-part series of issue briefs describes MassHealth’s impact on the health and finances of its members, families, and communities, as well as on the wide variety of stakeholders and sectors outside of the traditional health care realm that benefit from the program, including:
The MassHealth Accountable Care Organization Program: Uncovering Opportunities to Drive Future Success
This report describes the results of a qualitative analysis of the MassHealth Accountable Care Organization (ACO) program over its first two years of operation. The Foundation commissioned this report to provide timely insight into what is working well, challenges stakeholders are facing, and opportunities to strengthen the program.
Of the more than 1.8 million people enrolled in MassHealth, Massachusetts’ Medicaid program, one in five are dually eligible and receive health care coverage through two distinct payers – Medicare and MassHealth. This educational primer was developed to build a deeper understanding of the dual eligible population in Massachusetts. It illustrates the diversity of dual eligible individuals’ clinical and functional needs, service utilization, and spending patterns.
The Preventive Effect of Housing First on Health Care Utilization and Costs Among Chronically Homeless Individuals
Housing First programs offer chronically homeless individuals immediate housing as a foundation for the delivery of a range of other supportive services, such as mental health and/or substance use disorder services and social service supports.
Behavioral health urgent care services are a critical component of the broader behavioral health care delivery system. Developing and sustaining a robust set of behavioral health urgent care services across community-based settings will provide adults with more options for timely access to care and offer alternatives to emergency departments for treatment.
This UPDATED (October 2020) edition of the MassHealth: The Basics chart pack provides new data on MassHealth enrollment and spending from the most recent state fiscal years available, as well as a high-level overview and status update on the state’s delivery system reform efforts. The 2020 chart pack features a summary of the many temporary policy and programmatic changes that MassHealth quickly implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The revised federal public charge rule – which was finalized in August 2019 and took effect in Massachusetts in February 2020 – makes it harder for certain low- and moderate-income immigrants to obtain green cards or visas if they have applied for or enrolled in public benefits such as MassHealth or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). This report describes the expected effects of the revised federal public charge rule on MassHealth and SNAP enrollment, and its downstream effects on the health of Massachusetts residents, health care providers, and the state’s economy.
Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Care in Massachusetts through Telehealth: Sustaining Progress Post-Pandemic
At the onset of the COVID-19 public health emergency, Massachusetts led the nation in rapidly deploying progressive policies to temporarily expand access to telehealth. These changes have enabled significant increases in adoption of telehealth, including telebehavioral health, for providers and consumers in a short period of time. Prior to COVID-19, utilization of telebehavioral health had not gained widespread spread traction in Massachusetts despite its potential as a means to dramatically improve access to behavioral health care services, particularly for vulnerable populations.
This brief builds upon a July 2018 publication, What to Know About ACOs: An Introduction to Accountable Care Organizations, which was developed as a resource for stakeholders (i.e., providers, health care administrators, and policymakers) to help explain the key elements of MassHealth ACOs, including the three types of ACOs, who they serve, and the services they provide.
This UPDATED (July 2019) edition of the MassHealth: The Basics chart pack provides new data on MassHealth enrollment and spending from the most recent state fiscal years available, as well as a high-level overview and status update on the state’s delivery system reform efforts. The 2019 chart pack features a summary of the program’s impacts on access to care and health outcomes and new data highlighting the role of MassHealth in supporting the low-income workforce.
This collection of materials goes beyond the topline statistics often used to characterize those served by MassHealth in order to paint a richer, more meaningful picture of the more than one in four Massachusetts residents enrolled in the program. MassHealth serves our most vulnerable residents across their life spans from infants and children with special needs who gain access to comprehensive health care and support services required to reach their full potential, to the elderly and those living with disabilities who receive community based care that helps them remain in their homes.
This brief describes the potential impact in Massachusetts of a proposed rule, released by the Department of Homeland Security in October 2018, to change the process by which it determines whether an immigrant is inadmissible to the United States or unable to adjust status because the person is likely to become a “public charge.” The proposed Public Charge Rule would mark a significant shift from current policy by defining a “public charge” as a noncitizen who receives one or more public benefits.
How are Massachusetts Community-Based Organizations Responding to the Health Care Sector’s Entry into Social Determinants of Health?
In Massachusetts, MassHealth is implementing a number of reforms as part of its most recent Medicaid 1115 demonstration waiver extension to transform the delivery of care for most members and address the social determinants of health (SDOH). In light of the new interface between health care and social service delivery fostered by the MassHealth program redesign, it is important to understand how community-based organizations (CBOs) perceive the entry of health care organizations into their domains of social service delivery.
MassHealth introduced accountable care organizations (ACOs) for many of its members in March 2018. An ACO is a group of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that work together with the goals of delivering better care to members, improving the population’s health, and controlling costs. This brief serves as a resource for stakeholders (i.e., providers, health care administrators, policymakers) to help explain the key elements of MassHealth ACOs.
This guidebook is designed to help health care administrators and providers better understand the types of social services available in Massachusetts, the organizations that provide such services, and their key sources of funding. This resource is intended to facilitate greater coordination between these organization types, and especially with MassHealth ACOs as they seek to integrate, better coordinate with social services, improve health outcomes, and reduce health care costs.