PRESS STATEMENT FROM HEALTH CARE FOR ALL'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AMY ROSENTHAL REGARDING THE GOVERNOR’S HEALTH CARE BILL

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

(Boston, MA)- Statement from Health Care For All's Executive Director Amy Rosenthal regarding the health care reform legislation filed by Governor Baker this afternoon:

"Health Care For All (HCFA) applauds the Baker Administration’s commitment to addressing critical health care issues. HCFA is especially appreciative of the inclusion of important provisions that reflect our own key priorities for consumers in the state: investing in primary care and behavioral health, addressing rising prescription drug costs, tackling out-of-network billing, improving provider directories, and expanding access to oral health care.

“HCFA is encouraged to see the administration prioritize critical investments in primary care and behavioral health services. We have long known that promoting overall health must include behavioral health care, and too often consumers struggle to access these vital services that help them stay healthy and avoid higher cost treatments such as hospitalizations. This legislation takes important steps to make significant investments in these areas of work while managing overall health care costs.”

“After working closely with the administration on prescription drug pricing language in the FY20 budget, HCFA is very pleased that the administration continues to make this issue a priority and is now looking at costs for consumers with private health insurance. HCFA believes the strongest accountability strategy for bringing down the cost of prescription drugs is to set upper payment limits on the highest-cost drugs through a process that includes public hearings. While this proposal does not include this provision, it takes critical steps toward accountability through the determination of a proposed value for unreasonably priced drugs, requiring the pharmaceutical industry to do their fair share in bringing down skyrocketing prices. We look forward to working closely with the administration to better understand the details of this bill, and we are eager to work with all interested parties to rein in costs for consumers and the system.

“This bill contains strong provisions to protect consumers from surprise out-of-network bills, both in emergency situations and other cases when consumers unexpectedly receive care from an out-of-network provider. This issue is being discussed both here in Massachusetts and at the federal level, and we are pleased the administration is prioritizing these consumer protections.

“The bill also takes important steps to improve the accuracy of provider directories, and it is aligned with legislation that a wide range of stakeholders are currently supporting. These provisions will assist individuals and families to find in-network providers that meet their needs in a timely manner.

“We also appreciate that this legislation addresses the authorization of dental therapists, professionals who are key members of oral health care teams worldwide and who can help residents throughout Massachusetts receive access to safe, affordable dental care, especially for those in underserved communities.”

“We thank Governor Baker and Secretary Sudders for their leadership and look forward to working with them and legislative leaders to make progress in advancing state solutions for these critical issues.”

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Health Care For All (HCFA) advocates for health justice in Massachusetts by working to promote health equity and ensure coverage and access for all. For more information about HCFA, visit our website at www.hcfama.org. You can also call our free HelpLine (800) 272-4232 if you need help applying for health insurance.

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