Said chapter 7 of the General Laws is hereby further amended by inserting after section 4Q the following section:-
Section 4R. (a) There shall be within the office of commonwealth performance, accountability and transparency a caseload and economic forecasting office, in this section called the office. The office shall forecast caseloads for state-subsidized childcare, MassHealth, emergency assistance and housing programs, the group insurance commission, direct benefits provided by the department of transitional assistance, and other related economic forecasts, and shall promote accuracy and transparency in all caseload forecasts. For the purposes of this section, "caseload" shall mean the number of persons expected to meet entitlement requirements and require the services of state-subsidized programs.
(b) There shall be an advisory board to advise the office and oversee the preparation and content of caseload forecasts. The board shall consist of 9 members: the assistant secretary for commonwealth performance, accountability and transparency or a designee, who shall serve as chairperson; the director of Medicaid or a designee; 2 designees of the secretary of health and human services to represent the department of transitional assistance and the department of children and families, respectively; the executive director of the group insurance commission or a designee; the undersecretary of housing and community development or a designee; 1 member to be appointed by the governor, who shall be a health economist, econometrician or statistician; 1 member to be appointed by the senate president, with a background in statistics, economics or forecasting; and 1 member to be appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives, who shall have a background in statistics, economics or forecasting. All appointed members shall serve for terms of 3 years. A person appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of a member of the board shall be appointed in a like manner and shall serve only for the unexpired term. An appointed member of the board shall be eligible for reappointment. Five members of the board shall constitute a quorum and the affirmative vote of 5 members of the board shall be necessary and sufficient for any action taken by the board. No vacancy in the membership of the board shall impair the right of a quorum to exercise all the rights and duties of the office. Members shall serve without pay, but shall be reimbursed for actual expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties.
(c) The office shall collect data from state agencies to the extent necessary to forecast caseloads for the state-subsidized services detailed in subsection (a) and agencies shall submit the data to the office upon request. When collecting data, the office shall, to the extent possible, utilize existing data sources and agency processes for data collection, analysis and technical assistance. The office may enter into an interagency service agreement with the division of health care finance and policy for data collection analysis and technical assistance. The office, through its rules and regulations, may determine what type of data may reasonably be required and the format in which it shall be provided.
(d) The office shall, in consultation with the board, (i) prepare a caseload forecast for the state-subsidized services detailed in subsection (a) for the current and upcoming state fiscal year; and (ii) prepare other caseload forecasts based on alternative assumptions as the board may determine or as may be requested by the executive office for administration and finance or the senate and house committees on ways and means.
(e) The office shall report its forecasts to the executive office for administration and finance and the house and senate committees on ways and means on or before December 1 and March 15 each year unless otherwise provided in the general appropriation act.