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

Health Care Cost Control

Quality and Cost Website to Launch in Early December

The Quality and Cost Council today gave its approval for the launch of its website with health care quality and cost information. The site will be publicly launched during an event at the State House sometime between December 1 and December 10. In addition to speakers and a demonstration of the website, a number of computers will be set up at the launch so that consumers and others in attendance can start looking at the site. Secretary Bigby opened today's QCC meeting by stating her disappointment that someone leaked the website's cost information to the Globe and she said they will be... Read more »

Quality and Cost Council Meets Wednesday

The Health Care Quality and Cost Council meets on Wednesday, from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. at One Ashburton Place, 21st floor, Boston. The agenda includes: Committee Reports: A.   End of Life Care B.   Chronic Care C.   Patient Safety D.   Communications & Transparency Items for Discussion A.    Approval of the Council's Reporting Plan specifying the quality and cost measures to be included on the consumer health information website and the security measures used to maintain confidentiality and preserve the integrity of the data. B.     Review of Data to be Displayed on the Council's Website C... Read more »

It's the System: Globe Looks at Hospital Costs

Today's Boston Globe Spotlight Report, "A healthcare system badly out of balance," looks at the substantial differences in the amounts charged by hospitals. The report focuses on the fact that the two cornerstone teaching hospitals in the Partners network, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, along with Children's Hospital Boston, are paid 15% to 60% more by insurers than other hospitals for similar procedures (see the Partners response here). We hope the report, apparently the first in a series that looks at health care costs, will focus the ongoing debate on... Read more »

9C Cuts Lead to Changes for Quality and Cost Council; Public Hearing on Website this Monday

Today’s QCC meeting consisted mostly of a discussion about the $700,000 cut to the QCC’s budget and a proposal for continuing the QCC’s work with the reduced budget. Read Secretary Bigby’s memo to the Council outlining the proposed changes. The proposal was approved today by the Council (with Charlie Baker and Greg Sullivan voting against the proposal) and will go into effect immediately. All current QCC staff will be laid off, with core staff maintained through the launch of the cost and quality website. A Council Coordinator will be hired through the Department of Healthcare Finance and... Read more »

As of Today, Medicare Stops Paying for Preventable Errors

Starting today, Medicare will no longer pay for care needed as a result of a number of preventable errors. The list of 10 errors includes urinary tract infections associated with the use of a catheter, serious pressure ulcers, falls, objects retained in the body following surgery, some surgical site infections, and more. See the full list and read an article about the new policy on the NY Times website. As the article mentions, a number of states and insurance companies are following suit and refusing to pay for care needed following the occurrence of what are often called “never events.” In... Read more »

Pharma: Actions Speak Louder Than, you know

Do you remember this phrase: “a direct and immediate devastating impact?” That’s from the full-page ad the biotech industry took out trying to convince the Governor to veto the comprehensive quality and cost bill, that included enforcement of the pharmaceutical and device industry’s own voluntary guidelines. You might also remember the letter from GlaxoSmithKline, threatening to leave the state if the law was passed. Those of us that support the gift ban thought it was an empty threat at the time – particularly in light of the fact that the state had just pledged $1 billion to the industry.... Read more »

Quality and Cost Council Adopts Proposed Budget for FY 2010

On Wednesday, after much discussion, the Quality and Cost Council adopted a proposed FY ’10 budget of approximately $3.1 million. According to QCC Executive Director Katharine London, the money is needed for, among other things, additional staff to start implementing the Roadmap to Cost Containment (to be developed this year), to expand the website with additional measures and with sites beyond the inpatient setting, and to do outreach to consumers and others about the website. Read more »

Quality and Cost Council Agenda

Here's the agenda for Wednesday's meeting of the Health Care Quality and Cost Council, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m., One Ashburton Place, 21st floor, Boston. I.Introduction of New Councilors John Auerbach, Commissioner of Public Health Sarah Iselin, Commissioner of Health Care Finance and Policy Leslie Kirwan, Secretary of Administration and Finance II.Approval of Minutes of Council Meeting July 16, 2008 III.Executive Director’s Report: •Personnel •Website •RFPs •Data Collection IV.Items for Discussion A.Review of C. 305: An Act to Promote Cost Containment, Transparency and Efficiency in the Delivery... Read more »

Medical Homes -- More Evidence of Improved Quality for Less Cost

One of the most important provisions of chapter 305, the Health Cost and Quality bill that was passed this summer, is section 30, which directs MassHealth to establish a "medical home" demonstration project. In addition, section 44, which establishes the Special Commission on the Health Care Payment System, puts the issue of medical homes on the agenda for the entire health system. Read more »

September Connector Board Meeting on Tuesday

The next Connector Board meeting is Tuesday, September 16th, from 3:003:30 – 5:00 pm in the 21st floor conference room of One Ashburton Place, Boston. Among other agenda items, we expect the Board to discuss the revised Minimum Creditable Coverage (MCC) regulations. When the agenda and meeting materials are released, you can find them here. Read more »

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