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

Health Care Market

Big Employers Move into Electronic Health Records

Today's Wall Street Journal has a fascinating piece on large employers (WalMart and Intel) moving to develop their own electronic health records for their workers -- click here (I think it's free). Next week, the companies will announce their collaboration on a records standard to kick-start the plan. Later, about 10 employers are expected to chip in $1.5 million each to construct a data warehouse to store and update the e-records. Once in place, the combination would allow consumers and insurers to evaluate price and performance data from millions of employees. Eliminating duplicate tests... Read more »

Newsflash! Aliquos Togatos Conspirare (People in Togas Are Plotting)

Late yesterday, the Co-Chairs of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Health Care sent a letter to Connector Executive Director Jon Kingsdale and the entire board. The Board is scheduled to vote on Thursday morning on standards for new private insurance products to be released 7/1/07. The two legislators were co-chairs of the Health Reform Conference Committee and thus speak with knowledge concerning "legislative intent." Verbatim letter: Read more »

Guest Posting: Consumers Union on Consumer Friendly Info

Here's a guest posting from our friends at Consumers Union with a helpful suggestion for the Connector: As the Connector’s Policy Subcommittee discussed how many non-subsidized plans the Connector should offer on Saturday, I couldn’t help but worry that the Connector’s desire to maximize consumer choice may end up making the process to purchase health insurance needlessly complicated and difficult. At Consumers Union (CU) (the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine) we have found that, when it comes to health insurance, consumers are confronted with overly technical, inconsistent... Read more »

Connector Policy Committee Closes in on Private Coverage Rules

The Connector Board’s Policy Committee reconvened this morning to finalize recommendations around non-subsidized plans and minimum creditable coverage. Highlights: Member Bruce Butler started by recapping last week’s “preliminary decisions”: 1. Premier products – The Board should create a 1.0 (actuarial value) benefit package based on the most comprehensive products popular in today’s small group market (minimal co-pays, no deductibles, no co-insurance). All carriers wishing to offer Connector plans must offer one plan at this level. The mid-level and minimum creditable coverage levels... Read more »

Is This Our Future -- or Our Past?

Today's New York Times reports on early maneuverings involving the newly forming administration of New York's Gov-elect Eliot Spitzer and the powerhouse political alliance in the NYS health system -- SEIU 1199 and the Greater New York Hospital Association. Looks as though New York State -- due to looming budget problems -- is getting ready for some significant reshaping of its health care landscape, and that reshaping chiefly will involve hospital closings and downsizings. Read more »

Market Merger Commission Meeting Tomorrow

The Special Commission on the market merger is scheduled to meet this Tuesday (Nov. 21) at 1:00 pm at the Division of Insurance, One South Station. Read more »

Connector Policy Committee -- Notes from Saturday's Meeting

Some people spent all week anticipating the Michigan v. Ohio State game. Some Harvard v. Yale. Diehard Connector fans spent the week anticipating last Saturday’s inaugural meeting of the Board’s Policy Subcommittee. The Subcommittee wrestled with: 1. determining which potential enrollees to target; 2. determining target plan values; 3. deciding how much detail to dictate to carriers who will contract with the Connector; and 4. figuring out the interplay among Minimum Creditable Coverage (MCC), MCC in subsequent regs, and affordability standards for the individual mandate. Three and a half... Read more »

Dept. of Pleasant Surprises: MA Workers' Comp Has Best Benefits, Near Lowest Costs of All 50 States

Check out this 11/6 posting on Workers Comp Insider for the surprising news from three recent national surveys of workers' compensation systems in all 50 states: Read more »

Notes from 11/15 Quality-Cost Council Meeting

The Quality and Cost Council had its 1st annual meeting on 11/15. Future annual meetings will take place every September, but the Council did not want to wait until 9/07 to elect a Vice-Chair and a Treasurer. The Chair will continue to be the Health and Human Services Sect. (Tim Murphy now and then Deval Patrick’s HHS Secretary). Vice-Chair is Christopher DeLorey, President, Telamon Insurance & Financial Network. Treasurer is Robert Seifert, Executive Director, MA Medicaid Policy Institute. The governance subcommittee developed a job description for an Executive Director. The ED will be a... Read more »

Surprise, Suprise: US Employers Agree -- All Should Pay for Worker Health Insurance

Well, whaddya know. Regular Healthly Blog readers know (because we keep telling you) that two thirds of MA residents think all employers should contribute to the cost of health insurance for their workers (65%, 67%, 69%, and yesterday's Blue Cross study -- 70%). Today we see a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change, a national survey of 2995 employers. Guess what? Despite fast-rising health care costs, employers that offer health benefits to their workers say they are committed to the current employer-based health insurance system. According to new survey findings, two-... Read more »

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