Research & Kids Count Director
Nancy Wagman is the Research & Kids Count Director at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, supporting MassBudget’s research and overseeing MassBudget’s role as a Kids Count organization. Her own research focus is on children’s issues, health care, and federal funding in the state budget.
Prior to joining MassBudget, Nancy held several positions in the Massachusetts Senate Post Audit and Oversight Bureau; she was also a policy and program analyst at the state Department of Public Health; she was a WIC program director in a community health center; she was the planner and advocacy coordinator at a large community-based human services agency; and has been a special education advocate.
Nancy holds a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.C.P. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Massachusetts ranks 2nd for health in the national KIDS COUNT rankings of the states. But health care achievements and future progress could be at risk if Massachusetts loses funding from the federal government that has been crucial to Massachusetts’ successes. The federal government provides critical funding for health insurance, as well as for a wide range of public and behavioral health programs. More than $10.4 billion of the state’s $44.6 billion budget comes from the federal government to help pay for health care. These funds provide essential health insurance, nutritional support for pregnant mothers and babies, crucial prevention and treatment for substance use disorders, and other protections to keep children healthy. Proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, dramatic cuts to Medicaid, and other proposals in the President’s budget could cut several billion dollars from the state budget within several years, and could profoundly affect Massachusetts’ ability to ensure that every child in the Commonwealth grows up healthy.
Since Medicaid is a partnership between state and federal governments, much of this essential health care coverage is actually paid for by the federal government. The Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget includes approximately $16.6 billion for MassHealth. This total (or gross amount) is approximately 37 percent of total state budget appropriations. The federal government then reimburses Massachusetts for more than half of this spending. After receiving these reimbursements, the state’s net cost for MassHealth is $8.0 billion, 24 percent of the total net budget.
Partnership in Peril: Federal Funding at Risk for State Programs Relied on by Massachusetts Residents
This paper examines the major federal funding sources that the state uses to provide access to affordable health care, help children thrive, assist low-income families, and care for veterans. In addition to describing the sources of federal funding, we examine the policy changes Congress is likely to consider that could threaten this funding and the services the funding supports. This fiscal year, one of every four dollars that supports the state’s budget comes from the federal government 2–close to $11 billion in federal funds.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has recognized that recent improvements to school meals programs can unintentionally reduce funding for low-income school districts as the result of less accurate headcounts of low-income students. The Department has already made significant improvements to its data systems and is developing further recommendations at the direction of the Legislature. Based on MassBudget’s ongoing research on direct certification and its impact on Chapter 70 funding, MassBudget has developed six recommendations to improve the Commonwealth’s low-income student count.