A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Cost Control

We're Number 1! And Number 41! Some Context on the "Highest Premiums" News

As the Globe reported in its lead story Saturday, a new report by the Commonwealth Fund found that Massachusetts has the highest health insurance premiums of any state. Read more »

Weekend Heavy: Point-Counterpoint on Payment Reform and ACOs

For the weekend, we're going to do a mix of heavy and light posts. First, the heavy: The centerpiece of the proposed payment reform recommended by the Special Commission is the creation of "Accountable Care Organizations" (ACOs) that would receive global payments - that is, lump sum amounts to provided all the care needed for their patients for a year. Two weeks ago, the Commission's co-chair, Administration and Finance Secretary Kirwan and DHCFP Commissioner Iselin published an op-ed in the New Bedford Standard Times setting out the basics of the proposal. Read more »

Payment Reform's Transformative Potential

Dr. Michael D. Miller (not the other Michael Miller) of the Health Policy and Communications Blog has a terrific post summarizing and offering perspective on the Massachusetts payment reform proposal. His conclusion: "if the state of Massachusetts can implement the Special Commission’s recommendations for an all-payer global payment system in ways that transform healthcare delivery, it will be the most significant health reform initiative in the United States since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965." Read more »

QCC To Examine Cost Control Friday

This Friday, the Health Care Quality and Cost Council will look at two cost control efforts underway at a special briefing. The meeting starts with an overview of the payment reform commission's recommendations. Then, the discussion will look at the findings of the study on “Controlling health Care Spending in Massachusetts" being conducted by RAND for the Council. The briefing will be on Friday, August 7, from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, at DHCFP's office, 2 Boylston St, Boston, in the 5th Floor Daley Conference Room. Read more »

Let’s Reverse the “Quicker and Sicker” Exit Strategy

Deborah Schuss’s op-ed in today’s Boston Globe illustrates the importance of putting the needs, concerns and capabilities of patients and family members at the center of care. Focusing on discharge procedures at hospitals, Schuss shares her belief that hospitals have lost “a genuine sense of caring to accompany the[ir] care”. This bold, uncomforting statement by Schuss arose during her own experience with a hospital’s new agenda. The author talks about what happened when her dad was admitted to a hospital for treatment of pneumonia and an infection. The discharge process started before he... Read more »

Academic Detailing: A necessary tool for payment reform

As the Legislature continues to look at budget overrides, we urge them to override the Governor’s veto of funding for the academic detailing, or evidence-based prescription drug outreach and education, program, line item 4510-0716. This program saves the state money – according to an economic model developed by Dr. Avorn and Dr. Soumerai at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, every dollar spent on academic detailing returns, at a minimum, two dollars in drug costs. The program takes information learned through comparative effectiveness research on drugs and translates... Read more »

Commission Releases Recommendations on Health Care Payment Reform

The Special Commission on Payment Reform held their final meeting yesterday to release and unanimously approve recommendations on how to change the health care payment system in Massachusetts. The Commission is recommending Massachusetts transition from a predominately Fee-For-Service (FFS) payment system to a patient-centered global payment system within five years. (You can see HCFA's payment reform principles here) Read more »

Quality and Cost Council to Hold Annual Meeting Next Week

The QCC will hold its annual meeting on June 25, 8:30am-12:00, at UMASS Medical School. The public is welcome to attend. Part of the meeting will include small breakout groups during which QCC members and others attending the meeting will brainstorm about goals for FY 2010. The keynote speaker is Cathy Schoen of the Commonwealth Fund, speaking about health care system redesign and aligning payment reform with outcomes. This will be followed by a panel with Senator Richard Moore, Dr. Charlotte Yeh of AARP, Dr. Randy Wetheimer of Cambridge Health Alliance, and Eileen McAnneny of Associated... Read more »

Joint Committee on Health Care Financing hearing - Insurance Partnership program, medical malpractice and the health care workforce

The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing held a public hearing on Wednesday May 27th. Several bills were heard relating to insurance, the Insurance Partnership program, medical malpractice and the health care workforce. Read more »

Cost Reports To Be Delayed

The Cost and Quality Council met yesterday (materials here). They discussed their internal budget, patient safety, care transitions and DOI's slow but steady progress on uniform coding and billing regulations. Read more »


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