Massachusetts looks to reform state healthcare system

FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2017, file photo, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington. Something new is happening in a health care debate dominated for seven years by the twists and turns of Barack Obama’s signature law. The focus has shifted to ideas from President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers in Congress, and most people don’t like what they see. With Republicans in command, their health care proposals as currently formulated have generated far more concern than enthusiasm. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of residents with health insurance in the nation, but a recent audit revealed that patients continue to turn to emergency rooms for treatment instead of primary care doctors.

About 40 percent of the state’s budget goes towards healthcare, but the state’s healthcare system has significant disparities for low-income and minority residents, according to a report by State Auditor Suzanne Bump.

The audit examines the impact of 2012 health care cost containment legislation.

But five years later, MassHealth costs continue to rise and some residents go to emergency rooms for visits that could have been avoided, according to the report.

State lawmakers are concerned that low-income residents may lose MassHealth coverage if the federal government cuts health care funding to the state.

State Representative, Aaron Vega, told 22News, “The issue comes when people don’t have good insurance or aren’t utilizing the insurance they have and are still using emergency rooms as their primary care. We’re still not doing a good job of really sort-of that preventative model. We’re still much more of a reactionary model.”

Although the healthcare workforce is growing, the report found that pay growth for low-wage workers remains slow-moving.