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Council welcomes Sec. Heffernan to annual ANF luncheon

The Providers’ Council hosted Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan at a luncheon forum for human services executives Monday at Suffolk University in Boston, giving providers a chance to hear from one of the newer members of the Baker Administration.

Heffernan, who was appointed ANF secretary in August when Kristen Lepore became Gov. Baker’s Chief of Staff, brought a sense of humor and a copy of the Council’s 2017 report, Who Will Care? The Workforce Crisis in Human Services. He spoke briefly about himself and working in the Baker Administration, then answered a number of questions from attendees.

“Secretary Sudders and Sec. Lepore enjoyed a great relationship with your community and I hope that I don’t screw that up,” joked Heffernan, who was Commissioner of Revenue before being added to Baker’s cabinet. Heffernan was also a candidate for state treasurer in 2014.

Some highlights from the forum include:

  • Heffernan said he would be interested in sitting down with providers to discuss the Uniform Financial Reporting (UFR) requirement. “The UFR is a huge, time-consuming, cumbersome process – if I’ve got one takeaway, it’s the UFR,” Heffernan said.
  • Asked if there was a possibility that the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC), scheduled to sunset at the end of 2019, would be expanded as an incentive to employers to offer health insurance to employees, Heffernan said he had to check, but it’s an interesting idea worth following up.
  • With regard to allocating funds that were affected by legislative overrides as well as the possibility of 9C cuts, Heffernan said the Administration waits as long as it can to see if the revenue is available – “We want to have the full data on the revenue side before we do anything on the spending side,” he said.
  • He disclosed that, earlier in the morning, he signed off on center-based child care rate increase funding (Early Education and Care line item 3000-1042).

Heffernan also said several times that his department wants to know where the problems are with regard to state regulations, reporting and budgeting.

“We may not be able to fix all of them, but we don’t want to be living in the (dark) or making things worse,” he said.