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By DPH Commissioner John Auerbach

Here in Massachusetts, we’re fortunate to have access to some of the best health care in the world, and more and more people have access to care due to the success of health care reform.  But the cost of health care remains too high and, too often, focused on expensive, high-tech or inpatient procedures rather than primary and preventive care delivered in a medical home.  To address these concerns, Governor Patrick filed a comprehensive health care cost containment bill last February.

The Governor’s proposed legislation includes a number of important provisions that will not only control unnecessary costs but also promote high quality care.  One area involves the establishment of a comprehensive health resource planning initiative.  

This particular initiative would provide more resources for state agencies to gather reliable data on how our health care system is meeting the needs of our population – and how that system can be better positioned to meet our needs in the future.

Currently, the Department of Public Health and the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy have only limited abilities to collect and analyze in-depth data on health care usage trends and future needs in Massachusetts. The Governor’s health care cost containment bill would change that.

Under the Governor’s plan, the state would have the ability to take a closer look at changes in specific demographics within the state’s population, for example, the total number of folks who are over 65. We’ll also be able to better analyze trends in illness and injury across the state, such as how many of us are living with diabetes. A health resources planning initiative would also help us keep more detailed track of the current availability of health care services and procedures – such as an MRI or dialysis – in our communities. And that’s just a sample.

But data is only as valuable as our ability to understand and act upon it. Towards that end, we’ll work in close partnership with health care experts and consumers across the state to produce regular reports that explain what we’re seeing, identify trends, and make recommendations for moving forward.

All this will help us make informed decisions about health care resources, so that the health care system will help keep Massachusetts healthy in the years ahead.

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