KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Massachusetts Could Prove Model To Cut Costs

CNNMoney reports that Massachusetts could prove to be a model for how to grapple with high health care costs as its own soaring costs threaten national efforts at reform.

"As with the national proposals, the original thinking in Massachusetts was to give nearly everyone access to health insurance. The early tabs for universal coverage rolled in higher than expected, partly because of the program's popularity."

The program is now meeting its budget, but the cost of providing health care combined with overall budget difficulties have "forced state lawmakers to trim millions from health care programs like insurance subsidies for legal immigrants, mental health services and substance abuse programs."

As a result, a state panel tasked with looking at revamping payment systems in July came up with a new plan. "The panel wants to cut rising costs by getting rid of the most common way of paying for health care -- fee-for-service, which some say favors quantity of care over quality." A Massachusetts global payment system would try to rid the system of what some see as the wasteful method of fee-for-service and pay doctors regardless. "A similar idea has popped up in the national health care reform debate. But the remedy pitched is smaller in scope and it's not clear how much momentum it has (Liberto, 8/18).

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