State Senate Proposes $36.2 billion Budget Plan with New Opportunities for Home Care

The Massachusetts Senate’s Ways & Means Committee took their turn in the state budget-crafting process with a $36.2 billion proposal that increases total state spending by almost $1.7 billion from this year.

Although some programs in the Elder Services line items took a hit, as did the MassHealth Senior Care Account, the Senate proposed other new items that pose potential opportunity.

In what is known as an “outside section,” which is a section of an appropriation bill that can create new policies, the Senate created a Home and Community-Based Services Policy Lab. According to the language, the policy lab would start with $500,000 of state funds to evaluate and analyze the outcomes and effectiveness of home and community-based services under the Secretary of Elder Affairs. This includes the state Home Care Program administered through Aging Service Access Points (ASAP’s) that contract with Home Care Alliance members.

This “policy lab,” which appears to be a program evaluation of state government-funded home and community-based services, could be the beginning of proving the effectiveness of services such as those provided by home care agencies. More information on this will be released as details are released.

Also, in another “outside section,” the Senate Ways & Means Committee created a new Community First Trust Fund, which is intended for enhanced federal financial participation (FFP) funding for the state that is tied to the Balanced Incentive Payment program (BIP), among other programs. In a previous blog post, the HCA reported on the state’s intentions around the BIP initiative that will bring more support to non-institutional long-term care services.

More budget analysis will come out in the coming days, including the Home Care Alliance’s budget amendment priorities where HCA members can help by contacting their state senators. The Alliance plans on repeating proposals to advance telehealth in home care, better MassHealth rates, and a study commission of home health care services and possible oversight recommendations.

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