Since 2010, Massachusetts hospitals have benefited from an annual bonus in Medicare funding of at least $250 million. Congress is expected to vote to eliminate this windfall in early June, a blow to local hospitals, which may face layoffs and cuts in patient care as a result. But as the system is set up now, the state receives these funds due to a loophole in the national health reform law and at the expense of at least 40 other states. It’s time to find a more sustainable and equitable way to support top-notch medical care.
Critics like to refer to the payments as the “Bay State boondoggle.” Former senator John Kerry lobbied hard for the Medicare provision, an amendment to the Affordable Care Act, which he and others have defended as a fix to previous payment rules that reduced reimbursements to Massachusetts hospitals. Nine states came out ahead, but none did as well as Massachusetts — runner-up California has received less than half as much.