A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Cost Control

ACOs are an "opportunity to accelerate progress toward genuine patient-centered care delivery"

Earlier this month, Health Care for All actively contributed to the Health Policy Commission’s public hearing concerning their ACO (Accountable Care Organization) certification standards. ACOs provide coordinated care through their doctors, hospitals and other clinical and non-clinical staff, working together to improve the quality and affordability of care. HCFA representatives Steve Slaten, Valerie Spain, Brian Rosman, Alyssa Vangeli, and Helen Hendrickson testified at the hearing, offering consumer viewpoints on how to strengthen the proposed standards. Read more »

HPC Getting Set to Name Names?

On November 18th, the Health Policy Commission (HPC) Board met to discuss a number of new developments that relate to rising healthcare costs and quality improvement in the Commonwealth. The full slides from Wednesday’s presentations can be found here. The meeting started with a presentation from Executive Director David Seltz summarizing recent activities at the HPC. Mr. Seltz outlined recent successes from the CHART Investment Program – a program to improve hospital outcomes through an aggressive series of awards, coaching, and technical assistance. This month, eight new awards were... Read more »

Health Policy Commission Looks at Connecticut, Accountable Care, Substance Abuse and Hospital Improvements - and more

On Wednesday, the Health Policy Commission (HPC) Board met and tackled a number of issues, including updates on new Material Change Notices, planning for the 2015 Cost Trends Hearing and Cost Trends Report, developments in PCMH and ACO certification standards, new research in substance use disorders and opiate exposed newborns, and updates in the Phase 2 of the CHART investment program. You can download the slide deck with all the materials from the meeting here. And you can click on for our detailed breakdown. Read more »

More on our Report Card of Insurer Consumer Cost Websites

  Our release last Tuesday of our first report card comparing the consumer cost transparency web sites of the three major insurers in Massachusetts (download and read it here) garnered lots of attention. The Boston Globe's lead Metro story covered the report card, and HCFA ED Amy Whitcomb Slemmer was interviewed about it on Boston Neighborhood News:   Read more »

HPC Committees Look at OPP Regulations and Behavioral Health Issues

Earlier this week, two committees of the Health Policy Commission met to: Hold a public hearing on proposed updates to Office of Patient Protection (OPP) regulations Host a presentation from the Office of the Attorney General on their recent behavioral health report, “Examination of Health Care Cost Trends and Cost Drivers” Discuss the Recommendations from the Governor’s Opioid Task Force Report Discuss the Health Policy Commissions Substance Use Disorder Report, due out in early December A presentation combining all the slides from the meeting is posted here. Proposed Updates to OPP... Read more »

Rep. Sánchez On Progress and Challenges in MassHealth Delivery Reform Efforts

Writing in the blog of the leading national health policy journal Health Affairs, state Health Care Financing Committee co-chair Representative Jeffrey Sánchez provides a balanced summary of MassHealth's efforts to push delivery reform forward. The post, titled Tackling Medicaid In Massachusetts, looks at both the progress we have made, and the serious challenges we have encountered. After mentioning the success we have had at meeting the cost growth benchmark for 2013, Sánchez frames the issue with the context of the critical role MassHealth plays in the state's health care system: Read more »

HCFA ED Amy Whitcomb Slemmer in Globe: It’s about time we lifted veil on drug costs.

We need to do more to control prescription drug prices, says HCFA Executive Director Amy Whitcomb Slemmer in a letter published in today's Boston Globe: Read more »

Another Good News / Bad News Report: CHIA's 2014 Health Insurance Survey Released

CHIA, the state’s Center For Health Information and Analysis, released their Findings from the 2014 Massachusetts Health Insurance Survey today. The package includes a report, and chartpack (with powerpoint), along with detailed data tables and a methodology explainer. Read more »

House Announces Committee Assignments

Today the Massachusetts House of Representatives approved its committee chairs and members for the new legislative session. That big boom you just heard was the starting gun for the legislative process. Among the new chairs is Boston Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, who will co-lead the Health Care Financing Committee. This committee considers all bills concerning MassHealth, the Health Connector, other program such as the Health Safety Net, and delivery system reforms. It also takes a second look at many health care-related bills first approved by other committees. It has been called the "... Read more »

Senators Hear From HCFA Activist

Over one-fourth of the Massachusetts state Senators gathered last week at UMass Medical School in Worcester to hear the concerns of their constituents. These forums, known as the Commonwealth Conversations Tour, are an initiative led by Senate President Stan Rosenberg aimed at giving people the opportunity to make their voices heard on important issues as this legislative session begins. Read more »


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