A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Cost Control

Why Support the Pharmaceutical Drug and Medical Device Provisions in S.2863

Late Thursday night the Legislature enacted S. 2863, a comprehensive strategy to contain the growth in health care costs and improve access to quality care. The legislation now awaits the Governor’s signature. Since Senate President Murray introduced the bill in March, the most debated component of the bill has been the section related to pharmaceutical and medical device company gifts to health care providers. The final language enacted is a good compromise and a great first step for the Commonwealth. It requires the Department of Public Health to implement (and enforce jointly with the... Read more »

The Legislature Being the Legislature

The legislature wrapped up their formal sessions last night (early this morning, actually). Two key HCFA priorities – health reform funding and the health care cost control bill -- passed and are waiting the Governor’s signature. Two other priorities – an oral health and children’s mental health bill – were not approved. These bills continue to have broad support, and we expect their passage during the informal sessions over the next few weeks. There was lots of activity and some drama yesterday. Here's our report: Read more »

Last Dance, Last Dance, for L..........legislation

Today's the last day of the formal legislative session. Like every two years, the final days are a blur of activity as the House and Senate rush to get through an agenda that can't all fit in the time left. Both branches worked to midnight last night, and will again tonight. Here's where the key HCFA priorities stand: Health Cost and Quality: Yesterday both the House and Senate appointed a formal conference Committee to tie up the differences between the two bills. The House conferees are Representatives Walrath, Bosley and Hargraves; on the Senate side are Senators Moore, Panagiotakos, and... Read more »

Just Do It: The End-of-Session Legislative Agenda

The legislature turns into a pumpkin at midnight, Thursday, with the end of formal sessions. Legislation can still pass during the informal sessions which will continue through the end of the year, but anything controversial has to get through both branches by July 31. HCFA is working on a number of bills that have passed one or both houses, waiting final approval. With just a few days left, we urge the House and Senate to prioritize the following bills: Oral Health Initiative: S. 2819 is the historic oral health omnibus bill, which unifies dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and... Read more »

Can MA Solve the Primary Care Crisis?

This post from the "The Health Care Blog" blog is an outstanding summary of the causes and consequences of our crisis in primary care. It discusses how the Massachusetts insurance access reform can be derailed by a lack of primary care access. The causes are multiple: Read more »

Cost/Quality Bill Progresses through the House

Following a favorable report by the House Ways and Means committee late on Tuesday, the House passed its version of the health care cost/quality bill yesterday (see our earlier blog for our take on HWM’s amended bill). Kudos and many thanks to Speaker DiMasi and Chairwoman Walrath, and their staffs, for their leadership on this important legislation. With the bill now through both houses, a final version is positioned to be signed into law before the 7/31 end of the formal sessions. During the debate that lasted most of the afternoon, members of the House considered close to 40 amendments... Read more »

Quality and Cost Council Meets: One step forward on cost containment and one step back on website launch

The HCQCC met Wednesday. The launch of their quality and cost website is now delayed until October. Preliminary testing of the website, including consumer testing, will be taking place soon. The delay is due mainly to the need to clean the data to ensure quality and validity. Secretary Bigby noted that it will be important to know and understand all barriers in moving forward so that the next round of data extraction will be a smoother and quicker process while still ensuring the quality of the displayed data. The Council also announced that it will be working with the Brookings Institution... Read more »

House Moves Cost and Quality Legislation To Floor

The House will debate its version of the health cost and quality bill Wednesday (H. 4976, see bill text; Globe article). The House bill builds on the Senate version, strengthening some areas, weakening others, and breaking new ground. Speaker DiMasi recognized the connection between chapter 58’s access expansion and this bill. ““Even as we boldly acted two years ago to insure virtually every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth, that it would only work if we truly controlled costs in the health care system…. It is time for the same coalition that has sustained expanded access to health... Read more »

Quality and Cost Council Meets Wednesday

The HCQCC meets Wednesday, 7/16, from 1-4 pm at 1 Ashburton Place, 21st floor. The discussion will include: Website Issues around the dataset and display of quality data Adoption of regulations on the disclosure of claims data Collection of patient race and ethnicity data Framework for development of Roadmap to Cost Containment Fiscal Year 2009 Spending Plan Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Request Approval to distribute Request for Proposals for analytic consultant Read more »

"P.R. Ploy": PhRMA Recognizes the Need to Curb Gift-Giving

PhRMA, the trade association for drug companies announced yesterday that it has strengthened its voluntary guidelines on interactions with health professionals, which includes standards on gifts and other payments. The new code was rushed out in advance of the Massachusetts House consideration of a ban on all gifts, expected next week. This action shows that the industry itself recognizes the excessive nature of, and inappropriate influence of, gifts to health care professionals. However, the new PhRMA guidelines are an insufficient fix to the conflicts of interest created by gifts, and... Read more »


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