A plan to dramatically expand state-subsidized health insurance coverage to tens of thousands of people has fallen victim to the chaotic end of the legislative session.
Approved by the state Legislature in the final days of its two-year session, the plan called for a two-year pilot program expanding eligibility for ConnectorCare, the state’s subsidized health insurance program.
Under the proposal, beginning in July 2023 coverage would be offered to an estimated 37,000 individuals and families earning up to 500% of the federal poverty level, or about $139,000 for a family of four. The current level is 300% of the poverty level.
Gov. Charlie Baker sought to block the changes with an amendment to the state’s $52.7 billion budget. He argued that the state needs more time to study the plan before moving ahead.
Amy Rosenthal, executive director of the health care consumer advocacy group Health Care For All, called Baker’s decision “a significant step backward for health care coverage and access” in the state.
“At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet in the face of rising costs, denying them access to care and relief from health care costs does not make sense,” she said.
The ConnectorCare Care program, which was created as part of the state’s landmark 2006 health care law, offers low-premium plans with no deductible and limited cost-sharing to about 150,000 members.
Massachusetts law requires people to have health coverage, and the state boasts one of the highest insurance coverage rates in the nation. But advocates say studies have shown at least a quarter of residents have “unmet health care needs” due to high costs, and more than half face challenges affording care.
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