As a manager, I am a big fan of reviewing and assessing the progress we make in meeting the goals we identified for ourselves and our teams. Therefore, as I conclude my first year as DHCFP Commissioner, I thought I would recap the goals we set for the Division over the course of 2010.
We had hoped to accomplish two key objectives this year:
- continue to produce reputable, transparent, high-quality work that demystifies the MA health care delivery system and informs discussions about health care costs and quality at all levels, and
- publish the Division’s information in a manner that is easily accessible, readable, and understandable to a broader audience.
As I recap the fantastic work by the team of dedicated professionals with whom I had the privilege of spending many days, I will let you be the judge of a year I consider full of solid work, valuable data enhancements, and continued innovation in the way we approach health care finance and policy. I know you will agree after you review the following highlights that it has indeed been a good 2010 at the Division:
- 2010 marked the first year of the Division’s detailed analysis of the factors contributing to the rising costs of health care, as required by Chapter 305 of the Acts of 2008. The Division released three highly regarded reports informing the factors driving health care costs, followed by three days of unique and unprecedented public hearings in which we heard testimony from employers, consumers, providers, payers, and government leaders. In conjunction with the Division’s own analysis of medical claims data, we arrived at a near-unanimous conclusion: taking action now to lower health care cost growth is an economic imperative. The exercise culminated in a series of short-term and long-term recommendations for mitigating the annual growth in health care costs in the Commonwealth.
- The Division published 30 reports, 10 data documentation manuals, and dozens of user guides. Given that our analyses can often be complex and detailed, the Division introduced fact sheets to accompany each report, summarizing key findings for each major report. We also kept our commitment to transparency by inviting stakeholders to participate on internal work groups, and sharing our developments with you through our new blog and Twitter accounts.
- The Division hosted its first-ever Health Care Finance and Policy Symposium, where we shared the results of three new reports about preventable/avoidable emergency department (ED) use, potentially preventable hospitalizations, and primary care supply and access in Massachusetts. Given that we could save an estimated $1.2 billion annually from reducing avoidable ED visits and preventable hospitalizations, while at the same time improve the quality of care, the Symposium encouraged a lively discussion regarding better health care coordination and integration from several industry stakeholders.
- The Division adopted 20 regulations in 2010, ranging from issues such as the collection and release of health care claims data to those that set rates for public purchasers of health care. We also just proposed two new regulations on total medical expense/relative prices and hospital cost reporting.
- The Division played a key role in the Student Health Program (SHP) Purchasing Initiative, which brought state agencies and state and community colleges together to align SHP purchasing to increase benefits and improve value for approximately 11,000 students.
- The Division engaged in employer and provider roundtables, where we met with business leaders from across the state through a series of public forums hosted by different Chambers of Commerce. They shared real stories of challenges and opportunities in dealing with the Massachusetts health care delivery system. The Division also hosted two employer forums in Worcester and Boston to present the All-Payer Claims Database (APCD) to employers, policymakers, and interested stakeholders.
As you can see, 2010 has been a busy but highly productive year at the Division. We are very grateful and thankful to all those who assisted us in our efforts. Our publications would not have been possible without the residents who answered surveys, the numerous organizations who provided data for our analysis, the Division staff involved in the various production phases, and all the partners who reviewed our findings.
Similarly, I thank every individual and organization that participated in our open discussions and provided comments during our various public hearings. Your expertise enlightened our work and helped inform the development of significant regulations and policies.
I look forward to the opportunities and challenges that await us in 2011, as we work toward building a high-quality health care system that is accessible and affordable for all the Commonwealth’s residents and employers.
On behalf of everyone at the Division, Happy New Year!