Every month, the MassHealth program (Massachusetts’ Medicaid program) provides health insurance for more than 1.8 million residents of the Commonwealth: children in low-income households; low-wage workers; elders in nursing homes; people with disabilities; and others with very low incomes who cannot afford insurance. This is more than one-quarter of the Commonwealth’s population, including close to half the state’s children. Not surprisingly, such a comprehensive program represents a large share of the state’s budget. But how much?
The Governor’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget proposal provides modest increases in funding for public education, human services, and several other important investments. This new funding does not, in many cases, reverse deep cuts imposed across the state budget after the tax cuts of the late 1990s and early 2000s — despite a decade of expansion in the economy. Lost revenue from tax cuts has limited the Commonwealth’s ability to adequately fund education, infrastructure, and other building blocks of healthy communities and a strong economy.
Anyone who has set foot in a public school, driven on a road, or gone to a public park has been touched by the state budget. What we fund in our state budget reflects what we deem important.
None of these essential services would be possible without the revenue to pay for it. Further, it is important to consider whether the state is raising revenue fairly.
As the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget debates kick off this week, here are five questions to consider.
Having health insurance helps people afford necessary medical care, which helps them live healthier lives. Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in making sure all its residents have health insurance, but progress has stalled.
Further, some communities of color continue to encounter obstacles to getting health insurance and still see higher levels of uninsurance compared with the state overall.
The decennial Census counts for much more than a tally of every resident of the country. The Census is the country's snapshot: it creates our most accurate picture of everyone who lives here and where they live.
The opportunity to live a healthy life begins long before a person shows up at the doctor’s office or hospital; health begins where people live, learn, work, and play. There is growing recognition that greater attention to the social determinants of health – things like having stable housing, safe, walkable neighborhoods with accessible transportation, grocery stores with affordable, nutritious options, schools that are equipped to provide high-quality education, and incomes that enable families to make ends meet – is critical to making meaningful improvements to health. This paper briefly examines the health impact of one program that provides economic support for low-income working families: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).