MAAPPN responds to MA Attorney General report on Health Care Costs

MAAPPN expressed congratulations to the MA Attorney General for the report  on June 30th, 2015 identifying the impact of “historically low reimbursement rates” as undermining our states’ health care reform goals including access to behavioral health services and the impact on overall medical expenditures for consumers with behavioral health disorders.  In addition, the process of rate determination was taken to task as a possible parity violation.

In a letter to the AG, MAAPPN along with other Mental Health Coalition members stated: 
“We are concerned that the historically low reimbursement rates that you reference may in part be the result of a process of determining reimbursement rates for behavioral health services that are qualitatively different than the process used for setting reimbursement rates for medical and surgical services.  If this concern is valid, then we speculate that this may represent a violation of state and/or federal mental health parity laws.
We understand that your office has some responsibility with regard to enforcing mental health parity laws.  We urge you to consider whether to use your investigative powers to determine whether mental health parity laws are being violated with regard to how health plans, and their respective managed behavioral health organizations, are setting reimbursement rates for behavioral health services and to take whatever steps necessary to enforce these laws.
Again, we commend you and your Health Care Division for this important report.  We believe it is a vital step towards addressing behavioral health services access and understanding that increasing expenditures for behavioral health services is instrumental in containing overall healthcare expenditures.  We hope that you will follow up on the spirit of this report with appropriate investigative and enforcement actions, and we would be pleased to provide any assistance that may be helpful to your work on behavioral health issues.
MAAPPN has further suggested to the AG that they hold a “Listening Session ” with the Mental Health Coalition to further identify the our specific concerns about parity violations in rate setting.


State employees protest proposed health insurance changes

BOSTON – A union representing state employees is asking the Legislature to reconsider Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to increase health insurance premiums for some employees.

“Shifting these additional costs onto the backs of state workers who have sacrificed greatly, and given back consistently throughout the fiscal crisis, is not the answer,” wrote David Holway, president the National Association of Government Employees, in a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill.

The budget Baker, a Republican, proposed on Wednesday counts on saving the state $125 million from changes made through the Group Insurance Commission, the organization that provides health insurance for state and municipal employees and retirees.

For the complete story:

Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-oriented fiscal policy group, said the increase in premium co-pays to 25 percent is not unreasonable compared to private sector health plans. “Employees are being asked to pay more, but what they’re asked to pay is in line with the private sector,” McAnneny said