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View Full Version : Massachusetts Officials Approve Plans For Free-Care Pool, Price Transparency



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09-30-2007, 01:48 PM
Massachusetts officials on Friday said that uninsured residents will not have to pay a $35-per-month deductible before receiving no-cost care at hospitals but that instead they will contribute copayments for services, the Boston Globe (http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/09/22/state_eliminates_deductible_for_free_care_patients/) reports (Dembner, Boston Globe, 9/22).

Under proposed rules issued in July, uninsured residents with incomes between 150% and 200% of the federal poverty level would have been required to pay the monthly deductible. Those with incomes between 100% and 200% of the poverty level would have been required to contribute a $5 copay for office visits in a hospital and $50 for emergency department visits that did not result in admission. People with incomes between 200% and 400% of the poverty level would have paid a larger deductible based on income. There were no proposed copays or deductibles for children or for care received at community health centers, except for a $3 copay per prescription (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report (http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?hint=3&DR_ID=47108), 8/24).

Under the compromise plan, to take effect Dec. 1, patients with annual incomes between 101% and 200% of the poverty level will contribute a $5 copay for hospital office visits, $50 for inpatient hospital visits and $50 for ED visits that do not result in admission. ED fees will be capped at $250 annually, and there will be no copays required for children or for care received at community health centers.

The plan aims to reduce residents' dependency on the state's free-care pool. Health advocates who opposed the deductible rule praised the compromise plan, but they said it still needs some improvements. State officials maintain that they will monitor the new rules and make changes as necessary (Boston Globe, 9/22).