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Bigbypic2 By Dr. JudyAnn Bigby

This morning I will testify about Governor Patrick’s health care cost containment legislation before the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, co-chaired by Senator Richard Moore and Representative Steven Walsh. I’ll be joining Governor Patrick to provide testimony in support of the Governor’s health care payment reform bill, which the Governor filed in February.

The Governor and I feel an acute sense of urgency to take action to reduce the cost of health care in the Commonwealth. We often hear the urgency from families who are struggling to keep up with the premiums they pay, and, despite the ever-increasing costs of their health care, observe that their asthmatic child needs to be treated when symptoms arise and requires hospital admission.  We hear from the son who must act as the “care coordinator” for his elderly parent with multiple health conditions because his parent’s primary care doctor is not paid to coordinate care, only to treat conditions. 

These examples illustrate exactly what is wrong with our health care system: it is expensive and does not consistently pay for the right things.  Our health care system pays for procedures, appointments and tests.  It does not pay for outcomes; it does not pay for keeping an asthmatic child symptom free. It does not recognize the time a primary care doctor spends to make sure a person with a complex medical problem receives coordinated care from rehabilitation and other specialists, as well as care at home.  It does not pay for coordinating the care of elderly or disabled individuals with unique needs. The current system primarily pays for treating patient conditions — not for treating individual patients who want to stay healthy, and get better when they are ill.

Providing more coordinated, integrated care is key to reducing the cost of care and that is exactly what the Governor’s bill envisions: transforming the health care system into one that pays for value, and reimburses doctors, nurses and hospitals to keep people healthy. Providers would coordinate and guide patient care according to the highest quality standards.  We envision an end to paying for unnecessary expensive care and instead, paying for effective care.  In essence, we want to achieve a system that pays providers to take care of patients, rewards better outcomes, and offers the right care in the right place.

I look forward to today’s hearing and am confident that through today’s testimony, we will be moving this important legislation in the right direction to benefit all residents of the Commonwealth.

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