See How Well That Healthcare Reform Worked Out? Mass. Health Plan Cuts Subsidies For Needy

This is pretty big news, guys. Remember, the Massachusetts plan is the model they want to use for national reform - and already it's beginning to cr

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This is pretty big news, guys. Remember, the Massachusetts plan is the model they want to use for national reform - and already it's beginning to crack under the economic strain.

This is what happens with "bipartisan," market-friendly compromise: Band-aid solutions that can't handle a massive load. And it's exactly why we need single-payer universal healthcare: because it's the only plan cheap enough to stay solvent through tough times.

Overseers of Massachusetts’ trailblazing healthcare program made their first cuts yesterday, trimming $115 million, or 12 percent, from Commonwealth Care, which subsidizes premiums for needy residents and is the centerpiece of the 2006 law.

The board of the Connector Authority made the cuts as officials confronted two side effects of the recession: the state budget crisis and a surge in enrollment by the recently unemployed.

The largest share of the savings will come from slowing enrollment. An estimated 18,000 poor residents who qualify for full subsidies, but who forget to designate a health plan, will no longer be automatically assigned a plan and enrolled and thus could face delays in getting care.

The board also eliminated dental coverage for the poorest residents enrolled in Commonwealth Care, roughly 92,000 people who currently are the only ones in the program who receive that care. Regulators said that would save $10 million. Dental coverage was retained in the budget approved by lawmakers last week, and now it falls to the governor to decide its fate.

Also hanging in the balance is the health insurance status of 28,000 legal immigrants whose Commonwealth Care coverage was dropped in the budget lawmakers approved for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Governor Deval Patrick has until Monday to decide whether to veto any of that budget, which set aside $116 million less for Commonwealth Care than he proposed.

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