With the new state fiscal year technically arriving, the legislature’s budget conference committee released their compromise version between the House and Senate funding proposals that comes in at $36.5 billion.
With the delay in negotiations, the legislature recently approved a $4.6 billion budget to fund the government and related services through the end of July. The Governor, meanwhile, will have 10 days to review the conference committee’s budget and send recommended vetoes, which can be overturned with a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.
Among the priority items of the Home Care Alliance and others of benefit and interest is language allowing MassHealth to continue their work on implementing home telehealth service rates and rules. This is the second year in a row that the Alliance has achieved getting language that continues the association’s work with the state on an important service that is currently not reimbursed.
Another major win for home care came with the approval of the Homemaker Wage Increase that will amount to $6.1 million, if the funding makes it through the remainder of the budget process. According to the Home Care Aide Council, this appropriation would provide an annualized wage increase of approximately 75 cents an hour to more than 17,000 homemakers and personal care homemakers.
Among other notable items, the conference committee’s budget accomplishes the following:
- Funding the “Home and Community-Based Services Policy Lab,” ($250,000) which seeks to study the cost-effectiveness and value of home and community-based care. It is expected that services provided by members of the Home Care Alliance that contract with Aging Service Access Points will be included in an initial phase and other Medicaid and Medicare home health services will be included in subsequent phases.
- The state’s elder services network’s “purchased services” line item received the higher funding amount in the compromise budget of $104,411,964.
- The Elder Nutrition Program covering “Meals on Wheels” received even more funding ($7.37 million) than the higher amount awarded by the House ($7.12 million).
- The MassHealth Senior Care line item received slightly increased funding, which came from the House, at $3.197 billion while the MassHealth Managed Care account was level funded throughout the budget process at $4.792 billion.
- The Human Services Salary Reserve was given $8 million to fund better wages for human service workers.
- Pediatric Palliative Care gained a slight increase with $1.55 million.
- The Board of Registration in Pharmacy will establish four new specialty licenses for retail sterile compounding pharmacy, retail complex non-sterile compounding, and institutional pharmacy license to apply to hospitals and an out-of-state pharmacy license for those doing business in Massachusetts.
For more information, the conference committee’s budget can be viewed here.
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