Post Content

David_morales Posted by: David Morales, Commissioner, Division of Health Care Finance and Policy

Next week, we will bring together key stakeholders from the Massachusetts health care system at a series of public hearings related to health care provider and payer costs and cost trends. Our goal for these hearings is to engage in an honest and in-depth dialogue to shed light on the factors contributing to the unsustainable level of growth in the Commonwealth’s health care spending.

There are two key questions to be discussed by those in attendance, including providers, payers, policy-makers employers, consumers, and the public: why are costs rising at the rate they are, and what do we do about it? The urgency to answer these questions is very real as access to health care, the vibrancy of our economy, and the sustainability of our state’s landmark health reform are at stake!

In recent months, both Massachusetts and the nation have been struggling to determine the most effective and plausible paths forward on addressing rising health care costs. Many thoughtful ideas and strategies have been offered, ranging from a gradual redesign of the delivery system to move towards Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), to payment reform, to provider and insurer rate review, to revisions of regulations of the health insurance market.

Some other states have experiences whose lessons we might draw from during the hearings, such as California, which recently received national attention for Anthem Blue Cross’ nearly 40% rate increases for subscribers in the individual market. A recent Health Affairs article outlined key challenges facing California given some of the unintended consequences of providers banding together in larger systems for price negotiations, some of which are similar to the challenges in the Massachusetts market. The article goes on to recommend that direct regulatory intervention be considered. These hearings provide an unprecedented, but timely, opportunity for these ideas to be debated in the light of day, with the input of key players and in the spotlight of the public’s attention.

Against the backdrop of these state-wide and national policy conversations, the key issues that we will discuss during the hearings are:

The Experience of Consumers and Employers: Attendees will hear from employers – large and small – about how the rising costs of health care are affecting their ability to hire new workers, keep the ones they have, or provide wage increases. Consumer advocates will talk about the impact of the current health care cost trajectory on access and financial stability for Massachusetts families.

Dynamics and Opportunities for Improvement in the Health Care Delivery System: Testimony and dialogue will explore market dynamics, incentives for coordination of care, preventable hospitalizations, medical homes, and how our system can better integrate and promote effective preventative services. 

Cost Drivers in the Health Care System: Health policy experts and witnesses will be led in an in-depth discussion of the key drivers of rising health care costs, such as price vs. utilization, price variation between providers, models for reforming the way providers are paid, transparency of costs and quality data, and the role of medical technology.

Policy Solutions: Experts and panelists will discuss the feasibility of various strategies for mitigating health care cost growth –from both a policy and industry perspective.

The hearings are open to the public and will be held on Tuesday, March 16; Thursday, March 18; and Friday, March 19, 2010 starting at 9:00 AM at the Joseph P. Healey Library University Club, 11th floor, University of Massachusetts Boston.

For more information on the hearings including the full agenda and witness testimony, please visit www.mass.gov/dhcfp/costtrends. And, for updates related to the hearings, please follow the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/masshealthcare.

Written By:

Recent Posts

Some Workers Face Higher Risk of Injury – But Employers Can Make a Difference posted on Jul 25

Some Workers Face Higher Risk of Injury – But Employers Can Make a Difference

In the six years from 2008 through 2013, 356 workers died on the job in Massachusetts.  This is about one worker every five days!  The MDPH CFOI and MA FACE projects developed this infographic to illustrate these tragic worker deaths and to underscore the human costs   …Continue Reading Some Workers Face Higher Risk of Injury – But Employers Can Make a Difference

Making Your Summer POP! posted on Jul 19

Making Your Summer POP!

Few things are better than an ice-cold popsicle on a hot summer day!  I have vivid memories from my childhood running around through the sprinkler and various neighbors’ yards enjoying the summer sun.  At that age, having a messy red ring around your mouth from   …Continue Reading Making Your Summer POP!

Massachusetts is Rewarding Small Businesses for Healthy Workplaces posted on Jul 18

Massachusetts is Rewarding Small Businesses for Healthy Workplaces

Wellness programs are good for business. They can lead to better performing workers, lower absenteeism and decreased healthcare and insurance costs. Now, small businesses can be rewarded for these efforts! The Massachusetts Wellness Tax Credit Incentive gives small businesses in Massachusetts a state tax credit   …Continue Reading Massachusetts is Rewarding Small Businesses for Healthy Workplaces