Over the last few weeks, the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy – along with Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) – have convened a series of interactive forums for Massachusetts employers.
These forums have provided an opportunity for state officials and employers to engage in a meaningful and far-reaching dialogue about federal health reform as well as how the public and private sectors can partner together to reduce health care costs while promoting job growth in the Commonwealth.
There is much work to be done to address rising health care costs, which have grown at a disproportionate rate in Massachusetts – 7.5% compared to the approximately 4% growth of other indicators like per capita GDP. We can all agree that this level of growth is unsustainable.
The Patrick-Murray Administration is committed to providing businesses with the relief they need from skyrocketing premium increases and giving them the economic breathing room they need to create jobs.
Our cost containment efforts will require a thoughtful and transparent process with cooperation and commitment from key stakeholders, including providers, payers, employers, and consumers. We need to be mindful of the impact of cost containment strategies, not to delay their implementation but rather to ensure that we achieve the desired outcomes. These strategies must ultimately provide relief to businesses and consumers struggling with rising costs and promote high-quality, patient-centered care. Change may not be easy, but it’s necessary.
Some have expressed concerns that moving too far too fast will negatively impact Massachusetts businesses. But, it is our assessment that cutting health care costs will give Massachusetts businesses the resources they need to grow and create jobs.
The biggest area of opportunity for cutting health care costs lies in reducing waste and inefficiency in the system. Additional opportunities exist in redesigning the health care system and by placing a greater emphasis on primary care and prevention. For example, we want growth in primary care, care management, home-based care, and community-based care. At the same time, with a stronger focus on prevention and primary care, consumers will get the right care in the right place at the right time.
As we continue to move forward with redesigning the health care system, we are committed to an inclusive and collaborative process in which all stakeholders have a place at the table. We recognize that the health care industry is our state’s number one employer and plays a significant role in growing our economic base. We must do everything we can to ensure that our economy continues to grow.
A key element of redesigning our delivery system is to change the way we pay for medical services. With the goal of moving diverse stakeholders toward agreement on key issues of payment reform, Secretary Bigby convened a sub-committee of the Health Care Quality and Cost Council to develop recommendations for legislation that will transform our health care delivery system into one that rewards value, not volume. This group meets regularly and is deeply engaged in some of the key issues that will inform legislation next year, including the nature and oversight of accountable care organizations (ACOs) and a vision for a global payment system.
Massachusetts has led the nation in health care reform and is now poised to continue to show leadership in cost containment. Government, providers, consumers, and businesses must continue to work together to promote change thoughtfully and over time in order to control costs, grow our economy, and promote quality care simultaneously.
As a part of our commitment to transparency and engagement in government, the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy uses several social media tools including Twitter, Blogs, and RSS feeds. We use these tools to keep you informed about the work we are doing and as a way to get feedback. You can follow us on Twitter, and you can learn more by visiting the Commonwealth Conversations: Mass Health Care blog.