Mass. Medical Society Urges More Medicaid Funding

WALTHAM — In a letter to state legislators from the organization’s president, the Mass. Medical Society (MMS) is urging representatives to support more funding for Medicaid outreach and public health activities in the Commonwealth.

Dr. Kenneth R. Peelle, president of the 18,600-physician member organization, wrote to the public officials calling for outreach efforts to facilitate the enrollment of low-income individuals in Medicaid and greater funding for public health initiatives such as immunization, anti-tobacco, and substance-abuse prevention and treatment programs.

“The Mass. Medical Society applauds the House Ways and Means Committee for a fiscal year 2008 state budget proposal which would fully fund the implementation of the landmark Health Reform Law,” Peelle wrote. “However, we are concerned with the adequacy of funding for certain critical public health initiatives.”

Peelle said the Ways and Means proposal provides near-level funding for the Department of Public Health, “leaving that agency still underfunded, below even the amount appropriated in fiscal year 2001.”

Specifically, the Medical Society urged:

  • an additional $2.3 million for MassHealth enrollment outreach, which would provide level funding, help assure that all eligible candidates for Medicaid are enrolled, reduce free care costs, and garner federal funding;
  • an additional $23.2 million for universal immunizations to prevent such diseases as rotavirus, bacterial meningitis, and cervical cancer, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control;
  • An additional $7.75 million for smoking prevention and cessation programs, a response to statistics showing that tobacco use is the leading cause of cancer and cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, and that the incidence of smoking is again rising, according to the latest figures from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; and
  • an additional $13.3 million for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.