This afternoon, key leaders gathered to celebrate the details of an agreement reached on the renewal of the Medicaid waiver. Governor Patrick, Senate President Murray, Speaker DiMasi, Senator Kerry, Secretary Bigby, and Medicaid Director Dehner thanked everyone involved in the waiver negotiation process, especially Senator Kennedy, HHS Secretary Leavitt, state legislative and Congressional leaders, and EOHHS and CMS staff, for their hard work and dedication to achieving the goals of health reform.
Governor Patrick opened the press conference by announcing that the substantial funding provided to the state by the renewed waiver demonstrates the commitment to providing affordable health care for everyone in the state. The renewed waiver grants the state roughly $21.2 billion in federal funding over three years (an increase of $4.3 billion from the current waiver), preserves all eligibility and benefits levels for public health programs, provides full funding for health reform for FY09, expands the Patrick Administration’s authority to bill for programs in the safety net care pool by $1 billion over the current waiver period, and allows for a flexible cap in Health Safety Net expenditures. Senate President Murray echoed Governor Patrick’s enthusiasm on the waiver news by explaining that it provides the state with more money for health reform and additional flexibility in spending this money; according to the Senate President, health reform is working and can serve as a model for the rest of the nation. Speaker DiMasi proclaimed that this is a “terrific day for health reform” and congratulated everyone for their hard work on reaching an agreement on the waiver.
Senator Kerry saluted Senator Kennedy, a national champion for universal health care, and other leaders, and stated that “in the midst of all of this financial turmoil, it is wonderful to celebrate the enormous success that is this partnership…”. Secretary Bigby added that the “real results” of health reform’s success, such as increases in coverage and access and decreases in out-of-pocket expenses, contributed to the favorable outcome of the Medicaid waiver agreement.