Republican lawmakers today offered an amendment that would have saved the Commonwealth upwards of $160 million annually or just over $1 billion over five years. Apparently the majority of Democrats are not interested however, in accomplishing real reform this budget season, since the amendment was overwhelmingly rejected.
On the first night of budget debates, Representative Carl Sciortino said the Republican Caucus has no real solutions or alternatives to dealing with the state's financial problems. This comment came just minutes before he and most of his colleagues voted to increase the sales tax. Our Democratic colleagues say they are making the tough choices (raising your taxes) while we sit back and do nothing. Offering a proposal that would save the state $160 million annually is hardly doing nothing. The amendment we offered today, which received the support of about a dozen of our Democratic colleagues, would have shifted all MassHealth members to managed care plans.
Today, 24% of MassHealth members are in the fee-for-service system, whereas 27% are in PCC (Primary Care Clinician) plans. Not only would this move save money, but it would also result in better medical care for MassHealth members. Fifteen states have already ended their PCC program in order to have MCO plans.
Saving money and providing better health care to our state's residents is an easy choice. Why our counterparts in the House chose to vote down this amendment, we'll never know!