Several lawmakers have another plan for a pool of
money the governor wants to use to prop up financially strapped community hospitals and
other health care providers.
Under a proposal to be introduced today, the lawmakers
would set aside an unspecified portion of surplus cash in a fund to aid the unemployed,
and dedicate the money to help cover medical costs for children with catastrophic
Money from the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief
Fund would be available to all parents to pay bills not covered by insurance or state
assistance programs, proponents said.
"From time to time it seems there are these
people who have serious illnesses and it's so disruptive to the family," said Sen.
Richard T. Moore (D-Uxbridge), co-chairman of the Healthcare Committee.
He plans to detail the plan today, joined by Sen.
Therese Murray (D-Plymouth), co-chairwoman of the Human Services and Elderly Affairs
Committee and Sen. Robert A. Bernstein (D-Worcester), co-chairman of the Insurance
The money would come from the Medical Security Trust
Fund, which supplements health insurance for the unemployed. The fund now has about $125
Gov. Paul Cellucci proposed using $90 million in
surplus cash from the fund to be used to lend money to community hospitals, neighborhood
health centers, nursing homes, home health care centers and other providers.
But the fund was generated through a tax on
businesses, and some business leaders are concerned about the money being used for new
While Cellucci and legislative leaders may be at odds
over use [of] that surplus, both sides hope to combine efforts to craft solutions to the
crisis in health care.
Since regulators took over the state's biggest HMO,
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Inc. in January, Cellucci and legislative leaders have talked
separately about setting up a health care task force. Now they are working to form a
Cellucci is working with House Speaker Thomas M.
Finneran (D-Mattapan) and Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham (D-Chelsea) to come up
with panel members.
Industry leaders are already being approached about
serving on the panel that could be in place by the end of the month, said Cellucci
spokesman John Birtwell.
"The governor and speaker are of like minds that
there ought to be a committee, but how do you get a quality product out of it?"
Birtwell said. "They're looking at how do you put together a committee that isn't
weighted one way or the other."