Health access amendments proposed to Senate budget

Submitted by michael on May 20, 2008 - 4:45pm.

The State Senate will begin deliberations May 21 on amendments to the Ways and Means budget; debate will likely end Friday May 23. Four amendments address issues of concern to outreach workers and promote expanded access to coverage and care. All four need support to be included in the final Senate budget.

Amendment #792: MassHealth Birth Certificate Fee Waiver
This amendment would maintain a fee waiver for citizens seeking a copy of their Massachusetts birth certificate from the state Registry of Vital Records to establish eligibility for MassHealth. The cost of obtaining a birth certificate is $18 in person and $28 by mail. Sponsored by Sen. Marzilli, Sen. McGee and Sen. Jehlen.

Amendment #660: Office of Health Equity
This amendment would create and fund an Office of Health Equity with a mandate to coordinate all Commonwealth efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities. Sponsored by Sen.Wilkerson and Sen. Marzilli.

Amendment #785: Outreach Grants
This amendment would level-fund MassHealth and Commonwealth Care Outreach Grants for the coming year at $3.5 million. Sponsored by Sen. Moore, Sen. Montigny, Sen. Antonioni, Sen. O’Leary, Sen. Petruccelli, Sen. Downing, Sen. Morrissey, Sen. Marzilli, and Sen. Spilka.

Amendment 811: Office of Oral Health
This amendment would improve access to oral health by expanding the DPH Office of Oral Health and requiring greater coordination with EOHHS and MassHealth. Sponsored by Sen. Marzilli.

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Senate amendments

Also of *extreme* importance for people with disabilities and elders: the defeat of amendment 675/676 (Pachecho/Moore sponsors)--identical amendments (I believe that 675 has been withdrawn)setting up an unfunded $45 M earmark for nursing homes. EOHHS says that last years' $80 M earmark for nursing homes was "not justified by costs," (as nursing home usage rate/patient bed days in MA have decreased by 20% over last 4 years and MA has far more NH beds per capita than 80% of other states )and also says this new earmark is also not needed--and would drain the budget for community based services for this population.

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