The Massachusetts Legislature approved a $41.88 billion FY2019 state budget last Wednesday and sent it to Governor Baker, who has 10 days to decide whether to veto and/or make amendment recommendations.
From a hospital/healthcare point of view, the proposal holds reimbursement rates for most providers flat in FY19, but MHA and the hospital community worked successfully on a series of items that were incorporated into the budget that emerged from the conference committee last week.
For example, the budget states that the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) “shall” expend an additional $13 million in the aggregate for disproportionate share hospitals. This was MHA priority language in the conference budget as the Senate version had included “may expend” language. Also, the budget includes MHA priority language directing a transfer of up to $15 million to the Health Safety Net.
The hospital community was able to beat back language that was included in the Senate version of the budget that would have given the Health Policy Commission more regulatory authority to investigate and prevent service closures – even when retaining such services would adversely affect a provider’s finances or operations. Also, the final conference budget did not adopt language that would have required the Department of Public Health to initiate a task force to review the service closure process.