A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Private Market

Senate Passes Comprehensive Health Care Bill

Last week, the state Senate considered over 150 amendments proposed to their comprehensive health care cost control package, titled the HEALTH Act, for Health Empowerment and Affordability while Leveraging Transformative Health care (see our initial thoughts on the bill here). After spending two full days discussing and voting on amendments, the Senate approved the bill right at midnight on November 9. The final Senate bill, incorporating all the amendments, is expected to be numbered S. 2211, and so should be available online here. Read more »

Confidentiality Bill Passes Senate

Health Care For All applauds the decisive vote to pass An Act to Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare (S. 2138) by the Massachusetts Senate today. This legislation will prevent the disclosure of sensitive health care information through an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) form received by someone other than the patient. Read more »

Patient Confidentiality Protection Legislation Moves Forward

In a step towards victory for patient privacy, the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committees on Financial Services and Health Care Financing reported favorably on one of HCFA’s legislative priorities, “An Act to protect access to confidential healthcare.”  The new bill, S. 2081, sponsored by Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Kate Hogan, is now before the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Read more »

Testimony at State House hearing highlights importance of patient confidentiality

Yesterday advocates, consumers, health providers, and legislators convened at the Joint Committee on Financial Services public hearing to provide testimony in support of S. 557 / H. 871, An Act to protect access to confidential health care. The bill would eliminate frighteningly common confidentiality breaches in health insurer communications by allowing patients to choose where and how they receive explanation of benefits (EOB) forms. Read more »

Open Enrollment Season is Upon Us

The Health Connector's Open Enrollment period has begun, and with it, the opportunity for people to sign up for health insurance or renew their coverage for 2017. In Massachusetts, ten insurers are offering up 62 different plans for the next year. During this year’s Open Enrollment, it is especially important for Health Connector members to review their plan and compare their options, as some changes have been enacted that may affect their coverage. Some Connector members will be facing substantial increases in monthly premiums. About 70,000 notices from the Health Connector will be going out... Read more »

Cool Infographic on Promoting High-Value Care

When high-value care is delivered effectively, everybody wins. Patients experience better health outcomes, payers save money in the long run, and providers are better able to care for their patients. But the system needs to help patients focus on high-value care. At HCFA, we are committed to breaking down barriers to high-value care. Our "No Co-Pay bill" would eliminate cost-sharing for high-value preventive care, like asthma inhalers or hypertension drugs. The Health Connector's decision last month to eliminate copays for medication-assisted treatment for addiction reflected a similar... Read more »

Drug Coupons: A Double-Edged Sword in Need of Further Review

At first glance, discounts on prescription drug copays via “coupons” seem like an enticing offer. Many patients struggle to afford their copays. Until 2012, Massachusetts banned drug coupons for fear that they would ultimately result in higher costs for the whole healthcare system. When the ban was lifted, the plan was to allow drug coupons temporarily, until 2015, and to conduct a study on the cost ramifications.  What happened next is typical: the study never happened, and the sunset date was extended to 2017. And now, a rider was added in the House version of the 2017 state budget that... Read more »

Connector Recaps Open Enrollment, Approves Affordability Schedule, and Plans for Seal of Approval

Last Thursday, the Health Connector Board convened to discuss a variety of topics, including a recap of the Open Enrollment period, the 2017 Affordability Schedule, the Risk Adjustment Data Validation (RADV) contract and plans for the 2017 Seal of Approval. Materials from the meeting are here. Read more »

State Senate Advances HCFA Privacy Legislation

Last week, the Massachusetts Senate advanced S. 2138, An Act to protect access to confidential health care, a key priority for Health Care For All. The bill would fix a crucial barrier to accessing health care by ensuring that when multiple people are on the same insurance plan, confidential health care information is not shared with anyone other than the patient. Read more »

HCFA Comments on HPC's ACO Standards

Health Care For All submitted detailed comments last week to the Health Policy Commission on their proposed certification standards for ACOs. In our introduction to our comments (submitted in conjunction with Health Law Advocates), we wrote that Read more »


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