Lawmakers cut healthcare spending in state budget

Spending cuts to MassHealth total about $150 million

BOSTON (WWLP)—Health care makes up about 40 percent of the state’s proposed budget, but state lawmakers struggle to make health care more affordable without increasing state spending.

The state’s budget conference committee made about $150 million in spending cuts to MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, in the FY18 budget. State lawmakers hope to shift some of those costs from the state onto employers in the new fiscal year.

The proposal raises the maximum per employee contribution from about $50 to nearly $80, and up to $750 for some businesses. This is expected to bring in $200 million to the state.

“Make sure we don’t lose the consensus at the same time get some of the reforms which are an important part of ensuring the fiscal and financial stability of that program going forward so that it can continue to cover the people that it covers,” said Governor Charlie Baker, (R) Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of residents with health insurance in the nation, but costs for MassHealth continue to rise.

With a current revenue shortfall, lawmakers are concerned over uncertainty for state funding from the federal government as congressional republicans inch closer to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

“We are watching what’s going on at the federal level to see what the federal government decides to do in terms of whether or not they’re going to reduce or change the way funding is distributed to states for their Medicaid programs,” said State Senator Jim Welch, (D) West Springfield.

Governor Baker still has to finish reviewing the budget before it can be implemented. He has 10 days to look over the budget, but he can decide to veto parts of the spending plan.