Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Massachusetts Mandate

The Massachusetts House yesterday passed an insurance mandate bill. The Boston Globe reports:

The proposal, which now goes to the Senate, contains mandated coverage for services known as “applied behavioral analysis,’’ which include training children with autism and related disorders in social, verbal, and motor skills.

A broad coalition of business groups, insurers, and the Group Insurance Commission, which provides insurance to more than 300,000 state and municipal employees and their families, sent a letter to lawmakers yesterday opposing the bill.

It said there is “limited rigorous research’’ on the effectiveness of such autism services and said that the cost of the services, which are often provided at public schools through special education classes, would be shifted instead to the private market, falling heavily on small- and medium-size employers through their workers’ insurance premiums. Larger employers are not subject to state insurance mandates and would not be required to pay for these services.

“I worry about mandates that are added in a time of fiscal constraint and that are for relatively new treatment modalities,’’ said Dolores Mitchell, executive director of the Group Insurance Commission.

Mitchell said that her budget for the new fiscal year has already been set and that a new mandate would force her to seek additional state funds.

A financial analysis of the bill in March by the state’s Division of Health Care Finance and Policy estimated the mandated coverage would boost annual spending for each insured person by between $14.64 and $29.40.

But supporters say the measure would probably add just 83 cents a month, or about $10 annually to each person’s insurance costs, based on a similar law passed in Minnesota in 2001.