The Blue Cross of Massachusetts Foundation recently commissioned two studies related to the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
The first report, Expanded Coverage and Savings: Effects in Massachusetts of Extending the American Rescue Plan Act’s Enhanced Marketplace Subsidies, provides an analysis of the impacts of the enhanced premium subsidies for purchasing health insurance through the Marketplace, or Health Connector in Massachusetts, ARPA temporarily authorized through 2022. The Build Back Better Act would extend these subsidies through 2025. The estimates suggest that, if extended, the enhanced subsidies would:
- reduce the number of people who are uninsured in Massachusetts by 8,000 people;
- reduce household spending on premiums for people who purchase subsidized coverage through the Health Connector; and
- save the state an estimated $133 million in spending on ConnectorCare subsidies in 2023.
The report provides a more detailed look at each of these effects and is a resource for understanding the impact of these subsidies expiring.
The second report, Health Care in the ARPA Bill: Selected Highlights from Chapter 102 of the Acts of 2021, summarizes key health care funding allocations in this state legislation, which appropriates close to $4 billion, including $2.55 billion in funding directly from ARPA. The report provides an overview of state funding allocations in the health and health care related areas and is an educational resource for understanding state allocation of health care funding made available through ARPA.
It also commissioned the third study, Help for the Front Line: Approaches to Behavioral Health Consultation for Primary Care Providers, to understand whether Primary Care Providers (PCPs) identify a need for a PCP-to-behavioral health (BH) provider consultation program for adult patients with mental health conditions and substance use disorders (SUDs) and whether they would utilize such a program. Additionally, the study sought to understand the type of BH conditions providers encounter, the proportion of adult primary care patients with BH needs, and the challenges PCPs face in supporting adult patients with BH conditions. These findings are intended to help stakeholders understand how a consultation program might be best structured to provide evidence-based support to PCPs and, in turn, their patients with BH needs.
The study found that there is considerable interest in a BH consultation program if it is easily accessible and designed according to PCP preferences, including real-time consultation via phone and online consultation with response in real time or within 12 hours, among other features. Roughly half of PCPs surveyed reported being very likely to use such a service.