The bill proposes a number of technical changes to state insurance laws to conform with the ACA.
Major portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”) are scheduled to take effect in 2014. This will require some changes to the health care coverage programs set up by the 2006 health reform law. For instance, by October 1, 2013, the Health Connector will need to implement changes so it can enroll people into the new programs.
On May 1, MassHealth released its revised ACA implementation plan, called the “Roadmap to 2014” and on May 3, Governor Patrick filed the legislation needed.
As the Governor states in his cover letter:
The legislation will allow Massachusetts to realize the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act, including expanded federal funding to support coverage for low and middle-income families and federal insurance reforms that will secure additional protections for Massachusetts residents.
The bill proposes a number of technical changes to state insurance laws to conform with the ACA. Many of these changes will improve access to coverage. For example, current law prohibits individuals from buying individual coverage if they have access to employer-based insurance. The ACA does not allow these restrictions, so the bill eliminates the provision. Another section of the bill extends the ability of adult children up to age 26 to remain on their parent’s coverage, because the federal law is more expansive than our provision, enacted as part of Chapter 58. The bill also eliminates obsolete references in current law to pre-existing conditions and waiting periods, and permits the phase-out of rating factors not allowed by the ACA.
It is critical that in the course of implementing ACA here in Massachusetts that the more than half a million residents likely to be impacted receive the timely and effective communication. Massachusetts has served a a model for the original program; it must serve as a model for it’s seamless implementation.
Progressive Massachusetts is also prioritizing two bills related to ACA Implementation which are likely to be voted on at the same time. This include:
- An Act to Protect Health Care Reform Funding (SB 554, HB 1023)
- An Act Establishing a Public Health Insurance Option (SB 514)
These bills were withdrawn during debate due to lack of support.
Signed by the Governor - July 5, 2013