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Council hosts forum with ANF, EOHHS secretaries

More than 80 human services executives joined the Providers' Council Tuesday to hear from two top Baker Administration officials about the state's current fiscal condition, the upcoming budget year and other issues of importance to the human services sector.

Administration and Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders each spoke and answered questions from attendees. The event was co-sponsored by Suffolk University's Moakley Center for Public Management and moderated by Key Program CEO Bill Lyttle.

Lepore, the state's budget chief, said some 9C cuts would be announced in the coming weeks as the Administration works to close a $300 million budgetary shortfall. Both secretaries reiterated their efforts to establish sustainable budgets - Lepore noting the need to reduce overall budgetary dependence on one-time funds to achieve structural balance and Sudders, who is responsible for the largest segment of the budget, seeking to bring MassHealth spending, which comprises 35 percent of the FY' 15 state budget, to a point of sustainability. 

They also noted Gov. Charlie Baker's ongoing regulation review process, which is examining all current rules and regulations in Massachusetts in an effort to streamline state government. The Providers' Council and several members have submitted comments on executive branch regulations. Click here to read the letter.

Issues raised by Providers' Council members with the secretaries during Tuesday's forum included:

  • Improving state technology so reporting data need only be entered once and departments can exchange data. Lepore and Sudders agreed that providers should be at the table as the state explores IT solutions.
  • Concerns that moving toward large accountable care organizations (ACOs) will leave behind individuals with complex needs for long-term services and supports.
  • The burdensome cost of health insurance to provider organizations, and the alternatives the Council and members are exploring to help control costs, such as the Council's current bill before the Legislature proposing to join the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) and creating an insurance captive to leverage group buying power.
  • Workforce issues, including attracting and retaining Millennials, and potential benefits, such as the Council's proposed Student Loan Repayment program and expanded Tuition Remission program, both of which are bills currently before the Legislature.

The Providers' Council will continue to work with Secretaries Lepore and Sudders on issues of importance to members and the human services sector. Questions and concerns about public policy issues can be emailed to Bill Yelenak.