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

Must See Video, Yes. But Important Policy Meaning For Us, Too.

Must See Video, Yes. But Important Policy Meaning For Us, Too.

September 16, 2011

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/28940439]
Both WBUR's CommonHealth and the Globe's White Coat Notes have appropriately linked to this wonderful, creative and smart video, created by Gregory Warner of Marketplace.

But there's an important policy implication for us that the video illustrates. Massachusetts used to have a robust health planning process. With input, public officials would figure out how many hospitals and other medical facilities and equipment the state needed, and then use the policy and permitting process to work towards achieving the agreed-upon goal. This was abandoned in the early 90s, and now the "Determination of Need" (DON) process and other regulatory decisions are not guided by a public plan.

Governor Patrick recognizes this, and has proposed a fix. His payment reform bill includes provisions creating a Division of Health Planning, guided by a Health Planning Council. The Council includes state officials (including the Medicaid director) and 3 experts: a health economist; a health policy and planning expert, and someone with experience in health care market planning and service line analysis. They will oversee the creation of a state health plan that includes an inventory of current health care facilities (like hospital beds, surgical capacity, and advanced technologies or equipment) and an assessment of the need for these services or supply on a state-wide or regional basis, including projections for at least 5 years. The plan will guide DPH in making its DON decisions.

We strongly support the Governor's plan. So legislators: as you watch the great video of Hobbs vs. Otherton, don't forget the policy implications for Massachusetts.
-Brian Rosman