Guest Blogger: Are Feds Giving a Safety Net to Massachusetts’s Hospitals?

Josh Archambault /

Two of the most prominent “safety net” hospitals in Massachusetts are facing sizable budget gaps again this year, and are turning to the feds to bail them out. Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) have long received, in part because of their emphasis on the under- and uninsured, greater political assistance in propping up their balance sheets. The desired Medicaid waiver amendment would be worth $86 million this year for CHA and $90 million for BMC. These institutions play an important role in Massachusetts, but the new slug of federal dollars undermines the viability of Massachusetts health reform by introducing new annual bailouts.

A key accomplishment of the Massachusetts experiment was a deal to leverage public money away from hospitals for the care of the uninsured to assist low-income individuals in purchasing insurance on their own instead. MIT economist Jonathan Gruber described the status quo as “The federal government was essentially supplementing the expansion of these inner city hospitals.” For more on this funding arrangement see Greg D’Angelo and Ed Haislmaier Health Care Reform in Massachusetts: Medicaid Waiver Renewal will Set a Precedent. (more…)