A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Market

Patient Confidentiality Protection Legislation Moves Forward

In a step towards victory for patient privacy, the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committees on Financial Services and Health Care Financing reported favorably on one of HCFA’s legislative priorities, “An Act to protect access to confidential healthcare.”  The new bill, S. 2081, sponsored by Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Kate Hogan, is now before the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Read more »

Open Enrollment Season is Upon Us

The Health Connector's Open Enrollment period has begun, and with it, the opportunity for people to sign up for health insurance or renew their coverage for 2017. In Massachusetts, ten insurers are offering up 62 different plans for the next year. During this year’s Open Enrollment, it is especially important for Health Connector members to review their plan and compare their options, as some changes have been enacted that may affect their coverage. Some Connector members will be facing substantial increases in monthly premiums. About 70,000 notices from the Health Connector will be going out... Read more »

Sobering Report Points To Challenges in Access and Affordability

This. The headline above topped the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation's annoucement of the latest results from the Massachusetts Health Reform Survey. The sobering report has some good news - overall, coverage is still very strong in Massachusetts, with 95.7 percent of nonelderly adults reporting having insurance. But the report is newsworthy for the challenges it lays bare. Just having an insurance card is not nearly enough. Read more »

State Senate Advances HCFA Privacy Legislation

Last week, the Massachusetts Senate advanced S. 2138, An Act to protect access to confidential health care, a key priority for Health Care For All. The bill would fix a crucial barrier to accessing health care by ensuring that when multiple people are on the same insurance plan, confidential health care information is not shared with anyone other than the patient. 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 »

HCFA Raises Concerns at Insurance Division Session on Regulations

Today the Division of Insurance (DOI) held a public listening session as part of its review of state regulations, as directed by Governor Baker through Executive Order 562 from March of this year. Executive Order 562 is the Governor's controversial directive requiring state agencies to review every state regulation. The Division of Insurance, as part of a statewide effort under the order, is undertaking a review of all of its existing regulations to determine whether there is a clearly identified need for continuing to retain the particular regulation, including:  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 »

Connector Meets to Look at Customer Service, Plan Choices, & Provider Look-Up

On Thursday, the Connector Board met to discuss: customer service improvements; Conditional Award of 2016 Seal of Approval; implementing a provider search tool; and the agency’s Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016 administrative budgets. Materials from the meeting are posted here. Our full report takes a click below. 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 »

Still More To Do: Blue Cross Foundation Report Shows Public Coverage In Mass Not As Good As Private [Updated]

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation released a report authored by Sharon K. Long and Thomas H. Dimmock of the Urban Institute that analyzes the 2013 Massachusetts Reform Survey by comparing the experience of adults with employer-sponsored insurance coverage (ESI) to adults with public coverage, mostly MassHealth, but some with Connector-sponsored coverage. Read more »

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