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Senate bill would shame employers with most workers on MassHealth

The Massachusetts State House.
The Massachusetts State House.Shutterstock/File

Many big employers should brace for some public shaming, if a measure in a new state Senate health-care bill becomes law.
 Senators tucked a provision in the bill that would require an annual report identifying the 50 employers with the highest number of workers who get publicly subsidized health insurance.

The measure received almost immediate pushback last week from Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which referred to it as a “Name and Shame” list in a memo to members. AIM spokesman Chris Geehern says this provision feels gratuitous, like a cheap shot.

Geehern noted that companies whose employees are heavy users of MassHealth will pay the bulk of a $200 million-plus assessment enacted over the summer to help cover shortfalls in the state’s budget-busting Medicaid program. 

This idea has a precedent. A similar requirement became state law in 2004over the objection of then-governor Mitt Romney. Retailers and fast-food chains dominated the top of the chart. But the practice ended sometime after the creation of the state’s Center for Health Information and Analysis, following a 2012 cost-containment law.

Rising MassHealth enrollment forced the issue into the public debate again. The Baker administration partly blamed employers for this surge; the program is now used by roughly one in four Mass. residents. But AIM points to a federal change that reversed a state policy, one that until 2014 had prevented individuals from signing up for MassHealth if their employers offered a qualified plan instead.

The House is expected to take its own approach to health-care reform, and the new reporting requirement’s fate remains unclear. But AIM’s not ready to let lawmakers embrace it without a fight.


Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him at jon.chesto@globe.com and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

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