A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Cost Control

CHIA Report: Mass Uninsurance Rate Low. But Costs Still a Barrier to Care

The recently released 2017 Massachusetts Health Insurance Survey from the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) found that at only 3.7 percent, the uninsurance rate in the Commonwealth remains well below the rest of the nation. Nevertheless, insurance coverage does not automatically translate into health care access, and with nearly one in ten Massachusetts residents underinsured, it is clear there is more to the story of Bay Staters’ ability to get the care they need when they need it. Read more »

HCFA’s 2018-2019 Priority Legislation

With the launch of a new legislative session, we at HCFA are excited to announce a new legislative agenda that advocates for a more effective and consumer friendly health care system here in the Bay State. HCFA worked with a diverse group of legislators in both the House and Senate to file a broad package of legislation. The proposed legislation includes the following proposals:   Read more »

Feds Approve MassHealth Waiver Proposal

Today the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Massachusetts' application for a broad restructuring of the MassHealth Medicaid program. Read more »

HCFA Coalitions Submit Comments to Feds on MassHealth Redesign

MassHealth has pending before CMS - the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services - its proposal for a major redesign of its care delivery system. MassHealth is the state's Medicaid program, and covers nearly 1.9 million Bay Staters.  The proposal (read the submission and supporting materials here) calls for creating Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) as a new choice for MassHealth members. An ACO is made up of primary care providers who team up to provide integrated, coordinated care, with the goal of both treating patients when they are sick, and keeping members healthy. They... Read more »

HCFA Executive Director in Globe Letters today: Take Action on Drug Prices

Today's Boston Globe's lead letter-to-the-editor is from Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, HCFA's Executive Director. The letter is call for action on high prescription drug prices, exemplified this week by the outrageous price increases Mylan is charging for their EpiPen injectible drug for allergic shock:     Read more »

Packed Crowd at MassHealth Listening Session on ACOs

The room - actually 3 rooms combined - was packed as MassHealth held its first listening session for its federal waiver application which includes its ACO proposal and much more. The session was held in conjunction with the regular meetings of two MassHealth advisory panels. Despite it being a late Friday afternoon before the first weekend of the summer, interest in the proposal was very high. Given the number of speakers, the session, which started at 2:30 was supposed to go to 4, dragged on until almost 5. A second session will be held in Fitchburg on Monday, June 27. Read more »

Drug Companies Providing Meals to Doctors: A Not-So-Tasty Policy

Why do pharmaceutical companies pay for doctors’ meals? The answer is simple – it is a not-so-subtle form of bribery designed to influence prescribing practices. If it didn’t work, it is hard to imagine why it would be done. A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine supports a fairly intuitive notion. Doctors who are wined and dined – even when it costs less than $20 – are more likely to prescribe brand name, highly expensive medications. Read more »

Sobering Report Points To Challenges in Access and Affordability

This. The headline above topped the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation's annoucement of the latest results from the Massachusetts Health Reform Survey. The sobering report has some good news - overall, coverage is still very strong in Massachusetts, with 95.7 percent of nonelderly adults reporting having insurance. But the report is newsworthy for the challenges it lays bare. Just having an insurance card is not nearly enough. 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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