The History of the Artists Health Care Working Group (updated 1/19/10) * indicates updates
• The Artists Health Care Working Group was founded in January 2007. The working group formed in an effort to track, monitor, and better serve the artists community in regard to the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law. The group strategizes to assist artists with access to health care, maintenance of health care, reduction of medical debt, and related matters. The founding members are HeatlhcareforArtists.org, Health Law Advocates, the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Massachusetts, the Access Project (sadly closed its doors in 2009), and Health Care for All's Help Line, the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, the Insurance Partnership (due to 2009 state budget cuts no longer can allocate staff to the AHCWG), the Massachusetts Hospitals Association, and the four Commonwealth Care health plans: Boston Medical Center Health Net Plan, Neighborhood Health Plan, Network Health, and Fallon Community Health Plan. HealthPlan Solutions joined the AHWG in 2008 and is the group's small business benefits expert. The working group meets monthly.*
• In January 2007, www.HealthcareforArtists.org was launched. It is an artist run website specifically for artists working in all disciplines and for health care organizations working with this population. It is a key communications/outreach component of the Artists Health Care Working Group.
• In Spring 2007, the Artists Health Care Working Group worked hard with Artists from across the State to help change a key regulation in the MA Health Care Reform Law:
On June 5th, 2007 the Connector Board voted unanimously to change the definition of Gross Income to Adjusted Gross Income contained in the Regulations "Determining Affordability for the Individual Mandate [956 CMR 6.00]" These are the regulations that the MA Department of Revenue will use to determine if someone is exempt from the individual mandate - the mandate that requires people to have health insurance. The Connector Authority Staff (this included Executive Director Jon Kingsdale, Jamie Katz Chief Counsel and other key connector staff) recommended the change to the board. This was a key important change that not only impacts artists, the self-employed and those with combination sources of income in this state, but it has national implications as the entire country is watching our state as the model to replicate. Connector Staff mentioned at the June 5th Connector Meeting that at all three of the hearings it was made clear by those testifying that Adjusted Gross Income was the fair and equitable way to measure income for the individual mandate. One Connector Board Member, Celia Wcislo, who was at all three of the public hearings, made the case of the need to switch to Adjusted Gross Income for the Individual Mandate to another board member by saying "that artists had real businesses expenses- i.e. brushes, paint, studio space, that were not counted in Gross Income" .
• May-November 2007, the Artists Foundation (with info from HealthcareforArtists.org) held 30 Town meetings across the State. One of the key agenda items was the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law - its requirements and options.
• November 8, 2007, the First Annual Artists Under the Dome Event was held at the Massachusetts State House. One of the key topics covered was the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law and its impact on Massachusetts Artists of all Disciplines.
• January-December 2008, the Artists Health Care Working Group met monthly, met with key public officials from key state agencies in regard to the law's implementation (MassHealth, DOR, etc), testified at several public hearings, and also sent in written testimony/feedback on key regulations.
• In September 2008, Bill Fields of Health Plan Solutions, an expert in small business issues, joined the Artists Health Care Working Group.
• Fall 2008, the Artists Foundation (with info from HealthcareforArtists.org) held 5 Town meetings across the State. One of the key agenda items was the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law - its requirements and options..
• November 13, 2008, the Second Annual Artists Under the Dome Event was held at the Massachusetts State House. One of the key topics that was covered was the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law and its impact on Massachusetts Artists of all Disciplines.
• In 2008-2009 the AHCWG helped craft the survey questions and also helped to get the word out to the Massachusetts Artists community about the first ever state wide survey of the Commonwealth's artists community. The resulting report, Stand Up and Be Counted, was released in Fall of 2009. The survey found that even after health care reform in our state, artists were twice as likely to not have health insurance.*
• In 2008-2009 the AHCWG worked hard to successfully convince state policy makers to repeal the "majority of time rule" that was hurting both employees and employers. The AHCWG continues to work on key issues MA health care reform that are negatively impacting artists small businesses and arts non profits.*
• November 19, 2009, the Third Annual Artists Under the Dome Event was held at the Massachusetts State House. One of the key topics that was covered was the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law and its impact on Massachusetts Artists of all Disciplines.
• 2009-10, The AHCWG gave verbal and written feedback on the National Health Care Reform Law to the Massachusetts Delegation and federal policy makers.*