Thursday, the legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing will hear two key bills affecting young people:
- S.39 / H.188 – An Act to Assure Continuity of Health Coverage For Children, and
- S. 609 – An Act Relative to the Qualifying Student Health Insurance Program.
The hearing will be at 11:30 am in State House Room A-1, on Thursday, December 3 .
S. 39/H. 188, introduced by Senator Flanagan and Rep. Story, is a legislative priority of the Children’s Health Access Coalition and HCFA. This bill would provide 12-month continuous eligibility for children enrolled in MassHealth. Currently, children can lose their MassHealth coverage if his or her family’s income rises above 300% of the poverty level (FPL) at any point after they are deemed eligible. It is not uncommon for the income of a family living close to 300% FPL to fluctuate over the course of a year. When this happens, children cycle on and off of their public program and have intermittent coverage, which as you can imagine, is never a good thing.
The federal government allows states to establish 12-month continuous eligibility under these programs. The Commonwealth should join the 29 other states that have already implemented this policy, including Maine, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. We think this bill is budget neutral and good policy in tough financial times like these.
S. 609, filed by Senator Richard Moore, would require all student health plans to meet the state’s minimum creditable coverage standards. As it stands, some plans offered through colleges and universities do not cover preventive treatment or behavioral health services, cap prescription drug coverage and impose a low cap on medical benefits. A report released in early November by the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy shows that a number of national, for-profit health insurance firms are gouging over 95,000 students in Massachusetts with very high premiums for very little benefits. We are particularly concerned that while the major non-profit private insurers based in Massachusetts do just fine spending about 10% on administrative costs, and earning a 2% profit margin, some students are being forced into plans where 25% of the premium goes to administration, and another 20% to profit. The average for all plans offered by insurers was just 67% of premiums going to medical costs. The average profit margin was 10%, compared to 2% for private employer plans. Health Care For All supports this bill and additional policy solutions that level the playing field for this population who often experience other barriers to their education – their health should not be one of them.
- Jessica Hamilton