Sunday night, HCFA and Greater Boston Interfaith Organization gathered together to kick off our campaign to control healthcare costs. With about 200 people in attendance at Roxbury Presbyterian Church, participants celebrated together in all that HCFA and GBIO have achieved in helping pass health reform in 2006, but to say that now is the time to act to make care truly affordable for all.
Members celebrated that in reaction to our call to freeze premiums, the premium increases this year are the lowest they have been in years, at 5.9%. But we know – and the crowd chanted – that this is not good enough. What we need is comprehensive, meaningful reform that recognizes the consumers role with a seat at the table.
Reverend Hurmon Hamilton gave a rousing speech, which you can hear just a bit of in this great WBUR story about the event. Recognizing the national importance of this work, Hamilton asked and declared: “Will you join me in this effort? Will you rise up tonight and say it’s time to get busy, it’s time to go into action, it’s time to believe we can change this state now? We can change the nation one more time!” There are some people, however, who might think that this issue is too complicated for real consumers and congregations to get involved. But it’s not, and this rally was proof of that. Folks are ready to have their voices heard, and that’s also why GBIO and HCFA unveiled our five benchmarks of success in payment reform. This is the list of demands we want included in any payment reform bill that passes the Legislature. Here are these benchmarks:
1. Hear Our Voice: Include Consumers in Payment Reform Decisions. Patient and consumer representatives must have a meaningful role in guiding payment reform in Massachusetts, and in the decisions of health care delivery systems.
2. Health Care, Not Just Sick Care: Restructure Payments to Promote Value. The current payment system does not adequately reward primary care and prevention, nor does it support coordinated care or patient education. Transparent payment systems must be created which focus on quality and value.
3. Protect Everyone’s Health: Comprehensive Care For All: The payment system must assure everyone–including people who are ill or part of a vulnerable population–that their care needs will be met. This includes a choice of quality providers, a fair process to appeal denials of care, and the availability of all necessary services. Provider payments should be adjusted for health status and social and economic factors.
4. Public Health Pays Off: Invest in Community Prevention and Public Health. Community efforts to prevent disease and injury are an essential part of cutting the cost of medical care. Payment reform must include dedicated funding for cost-saving public health and community prevention efforts.
5. Fair Payment: Effective Public Oversight of Health Care Costs. Unregulated, private market negotiations have failed to produce affordable, fair and equitable payment levels for health care. State government must have authority to require reasonable charges by insurers, hospitals and other medical providers.
So what’s next? Well, we have heard that in any payment reform bill, the “devil is in the details.” But as Brian Rosman said, “This is GBIO! These are our congregations! We believe that the Divine is in the details.” HCFA and GBIO’s congregations are excited to dig into the details and learn all that they need to know to become great advocates on these details at house parties on October 24th. These house parties will be opportunities for folks to meet other people interested in real reform, but most importantly get educated on this issue so that we can start harnessing the collective power of these congregations as the debate heats up. To learn more or get involved e-mail Ari at firstname.lastname@example.org.