This afternoon the House unveiled their cost control bill, the Health Care Quality Improvement and Cost Reduction Act of 2012 (read the full bill text; and the Committee summary (pdf)). Weighing in at 178 pages (3758 lines!), the bill takes a comprehensive approach to improving health care quality and lowering costs.
The bill was endorsed by 11 health economists, represented by Harvard economist David Cutler. Cutler praised the bill as bold and thoughtful, saying that it rightly "put patients in the driver's seat."
There's a good brief summary of highlights on WBUR's CommonHealth blog, and we'll try to post the more detailed Committee summary later (UPDATE: Here's their summary). Posters from the press conference are above and below.
Slides courtesy of Committee on Health Care Financing
How's the bill? Very, very good. Here's the HCFA statement:
"We applaud House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) and House Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing Steven Walsh (D- Lynn) for advancing legislation to tackle comprehensive health care payment and delivery system reform.
We are excited about the proposed changes to the current way doctors, hospitals, and other providers are paid so that incentives can be aligned to promote patient-centered care that focuses on health and disease prevention, lowering health care costs.
Addressing the cost and quality of the care will allow us to transform the Massachusetts system from a sick care system to a true health care system.
Health Care For All celebrates progress toward creating an integrated health care system that includes medical and behavioral health. We also share the commitment to promote transparency, cultural competence, patient empowerment, and affordability.
We are pleased that incentives were included to promote the creation of new primary care positions in the state and the opportunity for patients to develop a new relationship with their primary care providers.
We are glad that the legislation focuses on improving the quality of care by encouraging the active participation of patients and their families in making health care decisions. HCFA also applauds the decision to strengthen the tools to protect consumers, as well as the opportunity for providers to offer an apology to a patient in case of a medical error.
The implementation of this second wave of health care reform will not only make a significant difference for consumers but also maintain Massachusetts' national leadership in health care.
This proposal will open a new chapter for health care in Massachusetts, and follows on our historic progress made in Chapter 58. HCFA will be looking closely at the details of the bill and looks forward to working with the legislature to ensure that the consumer voice is central.
There's lots to digest, and we will be doing a full analysis later next week. From a quick look-through, we saw strong provisions on many of our priorities, including mental health parity, shared decision making, consumer representation in decision-making, free second opinions, risk adjustment and many more. We were pleased that the bill includes a The Wellness and Prevention Trust Fund, though we joined with Mass Public Health Association and other groups (statement, pdf) to call for sufficient dedicated funding for the trust - something lacking in the bill.
The Senate expects to release their version next Wednesday, May 9, with Senate floor debate early the following week. The House debate will follow, perhaps the last week of May. We will continue to press for our Principles for Better Care -see the last 9 blogs - and look forward to real progress.