Healthcare Blog

Massachusetts Governor Plans To Propose Shift In Elder Service Oversight

June 14, 2017

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is planning to propose shifting oversight of elderly care services, such as adult day care and home health care, from the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to the agency that oversees Medicaid, the Boston Globe reports. Patrick outlined the proposal in an e-mail sent last week to three state lawmakers, who responded with a joint letter saying that the reorganization should be shelved. AARP and other advocacy groups say that such a shift would result in many of the elderly falling through "bureaucratic cracks," according to the Globe.

Kristina Barry, a spokesperson for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, in a letter on Wednesday wrote that the proposal has not been finalized, but that when Patrick announced budget cuts in October 2008, he told administrators to consider consolidations that would "improve government and make it more efficient in how we provide services." According to the proposal e-mailed to the three state lawmakers, the shift is "primarily about administrative simplification" and is intended to improve care and cost management. The proposal states, "Consumers and providers will not experience any change in their access to services, payment, or direct program administration."

However, according to those briefed on the proposed shift, the elderly services reorganization would not save the state money. State Senator Patricia Jehlen, chair of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, said, "I think it would be a mistake to ask the members to take a vote on something that would be disapproved of by their constituents," adding, "When people are being hurt substantively already, you have to have an awful good reason (for a change) that has no apparent benefit for them." AARP and other advocates for the elderly also oppose the shift.

The governor must submit his reorganization plan to the state Legislature, which must act on it within 60 days or it will become state law. Under the law, lawmakers must approve or reject the entire proposal without making any changes (Lazar, Boston Globe, 1/22).

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