Mass. Senate Passes Health Care Cost Measure With Eye On Saving $150B
The Massachusetts Senate passed a health care cost containment bill Thursday that aims to cut costs by $150 billion over 15 years. The bill, which now goes to the Massachusetts House, would eventually align cost growth with gross state product, would move toward paying for health care with global payments and would change the state's medical malpractice lawsuit system.
The Associated Press/Boston Globe: State Senate OK's Version Of Health Care Bill
The Massachusetts Senate passed its version of a health care cost reduction bill Thursday night, aimed at trimming projected health care costs in the state by $150 billion over the next 15 years. The Senate voted 35 to 2 for the measure after two days of debate on 265 amendments. It now goes to the House, which has proposed its own version of cost control. ... The Senate bill would limit future growth in health care costs to no higher than the annual growth of the overall state economy and create a new state agency to monitor spending (Young, 5/18).
WBUR: Senate Passes Health Care Cost Control Bill With Few Major Changes
In a near unanimous vote -- 35-2 -- the Massachusetts Senate passed a major health care bill Thursday night that legislators estimate will save $150 billion over the next 15 years. … In two days of debate, the Senate made dozens of large and small adjustments to this complex health care bill. Members set a health care cost control goal that's more aggressive than in their original bill. The bill would allow costs to grow 0.5 percent more than the gross state product (GSP) through 2015 and then drop to level with GSP indefinitely. The Senate bill would also create standards as more public and private insurance plans switch to global payments. Senate Democrats rejected a Republican amendment that would have gotten rid of a new surcharge to fund electronic health records and prevention programs (Bebinger, 5/18).
The Associated Press/WBUR: Mass. Senate OKs Health Care Cost-Cutting Bill
It would require health care providers to disclose costs of services upon a patient's request and encourage local health care providers to promote prevention of common illnesses. It would develop a process to track service price variations in which a commission would determine if the cost differences are valid. The legislation also seeks changes in the current medical malpractice system by reducing unnecessary litigation and its associated costs through establishing a 180-day waiting period before both sides begin negotiations. Among the amendments senators passed were the creation of a fund to improve and expand the ability of certain community hospitals to better serve those in need. Other changes to the legislation call for establishing both a residency grant program to finance primary care provider training at teaching community health centers and a commission to study the values of graduate medical education in the state and recommend a sustainable model for funding of such education (5/17).
WBUR: Patrick: Use Anti-Trust Laws To Fix High Hospital Prices
The Governor framed the problem as one of "market clout" and said dealing with the market clout of top Boston hospitals is in the hands of AG [Martha] Coakley. The AG, said Patrick, "has tools today to address these imbalances and we have to look to her office to use those tools." I called Patrick's office to clarify. What "tools?" An aide says the Governor was referring, loosely, to the AG's ability to file anti-trust charges against hospitals (Bebinger, 5/17).
In the meantime, community organizations are trying to lower health care costs in Massachusetts by better identifying and eliminating fraud --
The Boston Globe: Latest Efforts To Eliminate Fraud In Health Care System To Be Highlighted In Friday Conference
As Massachusetts leaders seek to slow soaring health care costs, a growing network of community-based organizations is trying to squelch Medicaid and Medicare fraud and abuse -- which also drive up costs. On Friday, a coalition of groups known as the Massachusetts SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) Program, will outline its efforts to eliminate fraud at a day-long conference in Marlborough. The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature presentations by an agent with the Boston office of the FBI, an agent from the state's office of Inspector General and the state's Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (Lazar, 5/17).