Somerville Seniors Celebrate Healthcare Wins at State House Bill-Signing Ceremony

Gov. Charlie Baker lauds seniors’ hard-fought victories to expand access to affordable healthcare

Boston — Massachusetts seniors joined Governor Charlie Baker and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders at the State House today as the Governor signed into law two budget provisions that will improve the health and quality of life of low-income seniors. One initiative will expand access to the Medicare Savings Program to 40,000 low-income seniors, and the other will enable the state to better control the exorbitant and growing costs of pharmaceuticals.

“It means so much to so many people that we were able to get this done, in my own community and statewide,” MSAC member and Somerville resident John Ratliff said. “Too many of my neighbors have struggled to pay for medical expenses on top of regular costs of living. Finally they will get some relief.”

Massachusetts Senior Action Council (MSAC) members were elated to see the fruition of years of grassroots advocacy, rallies and door-knocking at the Massachusetts State House. Seniors have been lobbying for the expansion of the Medicare Savings Plan for six years, for example. MSAC is determined to change an unfortunate statistic: Massachusetts seniors are the second most economically insecure senior population in the country, not far behind Mississippi.

Governor Baker acknowledged Seniors’ hard work on these healthcare solutions. Baker said, “We are grateful for our partners in the advocacy community…for working with us to enact these important programs that create savings for older adults and low-income individuals when it comes to health care costs.”

Expansion of the Medicare Savings Program will bring in $100 million in federal subsidies annually to directly aid low-income seniors. This is an enormous step forward, and the first step in MSAC’s larger vision — implementing a “staircase bill” to expand the Medicare Savings Program to even more low-income seniors over three years.

The pharmaceutical measure will allow MassHealth to directly negotiate the costs of medications with drug manufacturers, and if direct negotiations are unsuccessful, to also bring them into public processes for increased transparency.

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