Governor Patrick gave several hints about what his fiscal year 2014 state budget proposal might entail in his State of the Commonwealth address last week, but the announcement of his full budget plan sheds light on a bold plan.
The Governor is proposing that the state sales tax be reduced from 6.25 to to 4.5 percent, which would give the state the eleventh lowest sales tax among those states that levy a sales tax. The Governor also proposes, however, that the state income tax be increased from 5.25 to 6.25 while doubling personal exemptions and eliminating deductions that benefit select taxpayers. According to the Boston Globe, the proposal, if approved, would raise taxes on about 50 percent of residents, beginning in January 2014, with the biggest increases on upper-income earners. This would all go to support transportation and education costs as the Governor alluded to in his State of the Commonwealth address.
For general health care and home care-related items, the Governor’s budget increased funding in three MassHealth accounts (MassHealth Managed Care, MassHealth Senior Care, and MassHealth Fee-for-Service Payments) to meet projected need for those services. Such a move is in line with past years where more of a demand in MassHealth services has been a product of a recovering economy, continued expansion of state Medicaid coverage, and other factors. One item, MassHealth Nursing Home Supplemental Rates, has been decreased from the FY2013 appropriation by more than $20 million.
In terms of the Elder Affairs line items that fund the Aging Service Access Points and State Home Care Program, the Governor proposes a sizable increase to Elder Protective Services over FY13 by $4.8 million. The Prescription Advantage line item amount was reduced, according to Elder Affairs Secretary Ann Hartstein, due to changes in Medicare Part D that will absorb the state’s share. The Elder Home Care Case Management and Administration account was dropped by more than $1 million, but all other Elder Affairs accounts remained relatively level funded.
Other notable items include the elimination of the $20 million Human Services Salary Reserve. The comment on that line item is “eliminated funding due to reform,” which HCA is assuming means that the funding, or at least part of it, will be implemented elsewhere. The Alliance will continue to monitor that account and provide further information as it is released.
To see the Governor’s budget proposal and learn more about the above items, visit his FY2014 Budget webpage.
Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.