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Early-Afternoon Briefs: Baker’s Unfinished Health Care Biz | Mail-In Voting Advice .: The State House News Service

Early-Afternoon Briefs: Baker’s Unfinished Health Care Biz | Mail-In Voting Advice

  • Health Care Deal Could Surface In September
  • Galvin Urges Would-Be Voters To Go Online Or Use Drop Boxes

Health Care Deal Could Surface In September
August is coming to a close without a deal on a more than $4 billion economic development bill, but an even pricier piece of unfinished state business is set to bump up against an extended deadline in September. The state's Medicaid 1115 Demonstration Waiver, which allows the state to tailor its programs by waiving some Medicaid law provisions, was approved by the former Obama administration in November 2016 and set to expire June 30, 2022. The $52.5 billion waiver facilitated a $1.8 billion effort to transition toward accountable care organization models of care and make investments in behavioral health and long-term care services. The Baker administration submitted a five-year waiver extension proposal in December 2021, and in June 2022, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved a temporary extension that runs until Sept. 30, 2022. That means the Biden administration could tip its hand in the coming weeks on its level of cooperation with Bay State health care reforms, and the waiver represents a big piece of final health care business for Gov. Charlie Baker, who is not seeking reelection is and set to leave office in early January. In a June 9 letter, Judith Cash, director of the State Demonstrations Group at CMS, said the federal agency "strongly supports the goals set forth in the state's extension proposal," including continued restructuring and the shift toward "accountable, value-based care," investing in primary care, behavioral health, and pediatric care, advancing health equity and addressing health-related social needs and disparities, supporting the state's "safety net," and maintaining near-universal health insurance coverage. The MassHealth program, also commonly referred to as Medicaid, is the largest single program and cost center in the annual state budget. MassHealth, which is funded by the state and federal governments, accounted for nearly $19.5 billion in spending in the $52.7 billion fiscal 2023 budget that Gov. Baker signed in late July. The waiver, which has evolved through governorships and presidencies, has long been central to the program's administration, with the Baker administration saying that since 1997 it "has been a critical tool in enabling Massachusetts to achieve and maintain near-universal coverage, sustain the Commonwealth's safety net, expand critical behavioral health services, and implement reforms in the way that care is delivered." Last Thursday, U.S Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure issued a letter to governors inviting them to work with CMS and apply for Medicaid 1115 waivers "to provide increased access to care for women from states where reproductive rights are under attack and women may be denied medical care." - Michael P. Norton/SHNS

Galvin Urges Would-Be Voters To Go Online Or Use Drop Boxes
With applications due by 5 p.m. Monday, Secretary of State William Galvin on Monday cautioned people hoping to participate in the Sept. 6 primary elections against attempting to return vote-by-mail applications by mail and said to instead use either drop boxes or the online ballot application system available on his website. "Your application to vote by mail in the State Primary will be honored as long as your local election official has it in hand by 5 p.m. today. If you drop your application into a mailbox now, it will not be delivered to your city or town hall by 5 p.m. today," Galvin said in a statement. Voters can apply for a primary ballot up until 5 p.m. Monday at Also, in order for a state primary ballot to be counted, it must reach the voter's local election office by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6. "The U.S. Postal Service typically recommends mailing a ballot no later than one week before Election Day. With the holiday weekend ahead and no mail delivery on Labor Day, there is no guarantee that a ballot returned by mail this week will arrive in time to be counted," Galvin's office said. "Voters who do mail their ballots close to Election Day should track their ballot's status at to confirm it reached their local election office by September 6 and was accepted. Voters always have the option of voting in person on Election Day if their ballot has not yet been received." - Michael P. Norton/SHNS


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