A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Cost Control

Payment Reform Commission Looks At Payment Systems

The Payment Reform Commission held its fourth meeting on Tuesday, February 24th. The Commission discussed episode-based payment models and evidence-based purchasing at length. Meeting materials are available here. Our full report is below the fold. Read more »

Payment Reform Boot Camp (Part 1): Payment Reform Commission Soaks Up Payment Models

The Special Commission on Payment Reform held its second meeting on Friday, February 13th (All of the meeting materials are available here). The Commission welcomed Rep. Harriet Stanley as the new House appointee. Guest speakers presented the Commission with in-depth information about medical home models, pay for performance strategies and the intersection between payment models and benefit designs, and discussed the feasibility of these proposals for Massachusetts. The Commission and guest speakers wove the thread of the need for consumer feedback throughout their discussion. Read more »

The drumbeat for Rx and medical device reform gets stronger

Case 1: Mass. Regulates disclosure of industry Read more »

Once Upon A Time . . . (Payment Reform Commission Hears Testimony)

This past Friday, the Special Commission on Payment Reform (we reported on their first meeting here) held a public input session to hear testimony from interested parties. The majority of Commission members were in attendance to listen and ask questions of those who testified. Read more »

House One Budget Released

Governor Patrick started the FY 2010 budget process today with the filing of House 1, the administration's budget proposal. Given the steep decline in existing revenues, the budget was bound to be a good news/bad news situation. The budget proposes no direct cuts to benefits or eligibility in health coverage programs. The Governor's deep commitment to health reform is maintained. But deep cuts in public health, along with ongoing cuts in provider rates for public programs, will stretch our health safety net and threaten gains made in the past years. We're still looking at the details... Read more »

Special Commission Dives Into Deep Waters of Payment Reform

The Special Commission on Payment Reform held its first meeting on Friday, January 16th. Created by Chapter 305, the Commission is charged with the task of investigating how our health care payment system can be reformed and restructured to provide incentives for efficient and effective patient centered care and to reduce variations in the quality and cost of care. The Commission is co-chaired by Administration & Finance Secretary Leslie Kirwan and Division of Health Care Finance and Policy Commissioner Sarah Iselin and its members represent health plans, providers, hospitals, the... Read more »

Now The Hard Part Starts - Payment Reform Commission Appointed

We're very pleased that belatedly the Patrick administration today announced the formation of the "Special Commission on the Health Care Payment System" called for in Chapter 305, which passed in August of last year. Under the law, the commission was slated to start back in September. As we've repeatedly said, we hope the commission thinks big and bold. The statute anticipates the commission formulating a universal system of payment that includes Medicare as well as state payers. We think the Obama administration would be open to a waiver proposal from Massachusetts that would be a test of... Read more »

State To Review Partners Contracts: Yes, But . . .

The Globe yesterday reported (http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2009/01/01/state_panel_to_exa...) that state officials will begin looking into the impact of contracts between the Partners hospital system and insurers. Yes, but we've been waiting for months for an existing process on payments to get underway. The review announced yesterday may be worthwhile, and we hope the process is open and transparent. Read more »

MAHP Falls Into The Trap: The Mandated Benefits Fallacy, Yet Again Again

We promised we would never let this false information go unanswered. Once again, someone has misused the DHCFP study on the cost of mandated health insurance benefits in Massachusetts to make the false claim that mandated benefits add up to 12% of insurance costs. Once again, it's our job to correct the misinformation. (See our original blog here, and our followups correcting the Herald, and HPHC CEO Charlie Baker.) Read more »

MassHealth Audit Doesn't Tell the Whole Story

Last week, the Boston Globe wrote an editorial entitled “MassHealth’s Pricey Toilet Seats.” The piece discussed the recent audit of MassHealth and a number of questions auditor Joe DeNucci had on the state’s payment for medical equipment. For the fiscal year of 2007, DeNucci cites “$12 million in excessive of questionable reimbursements for medical equipment. Examples in the editorial were $60 raised toilet seats and lubricant. Read more »


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