A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Market

A Giant Step Toward Fair Prescription Drug Pricing

Today our friends at the Prescription Access Litigation Project(PAL -- a Community Catalyst project) announced a groundbreaking settlement in a legal case they helped organize against First Databank Inc. the most widely used publisher of prescription drug prices in the US. The settlement will save consumers an estimated $4 billion in prescription drug costs, by requiring First Databank to lower the listed ("manipulated" is the allegation) prices on the most commonly used drugs. The savings will apply to 95% of all drugs sold on the market. Read more »

The Levy Chronicles IV: Paul's Site Is Heating Up

As he promised, Paul Levy's Running a Hospital blog is heating up. See the October 7 entry on Religion and Union Organizing, and see the September 29th entry on Transparency. Locking horns in a public space with SEIU 1199 and Partners Healthcare. This is getting interesting... Read more »

More Hospitals Going Organic

Check out this Associated Press article on hospitals across the nation changing their food operations to go totally organic. Patients and visitors like it so much, they come back for more after discharge. Some hospitals have created onsite farmers markets. Others have hired chefs and former restaurant employees to run their kitchens. "What we are trying to do is provide not just our patients, but everybody that eats here, with foods that are health promoting," said Nancy Gummer, director of nutrition services at Good Shepherd (Portland, Oregon). The hospital no longer needs to modify each... Read more »

The Levy Chronicles: Paul Responds with Gusto

OK folks, so here's how this started. On Monday, my longtime friend and former state senator Ed Burke, sends an email telling me that Beth Israel Deaconness CEO Paul Levy started ablog and I should check it out. So I did and we mentioned it on Monday. Paul is grateful for the plug and opines that he's eager to provoke responses in the less-than-adulatory category. Ever eager to help, I took up the challenge and made this post later this week. I think we may have started something. So Paul responded to our posting yesterday. I'm reprinting his response in full below without comment or... Read more »

Market Merger Commission Meets

Today I attended a meeting of the private market merger commission. (This was the first full Commission meeting we knew about in advance, and not the first meeting of the Commission.) The meeting was a contrast to the Connector Board meeting going on at the same time. No buzz, no media, no debate, no health care who’s who, no “see and be seen” scene and no shortage of chairs. There were plenty of empty chairs. Only 2 of the 9 commission members were in attendance (Rina Vertes and Gary Lin) and 2 others represented by designees: Nancy Schwartz, chairing the meeting on behalf of Commissioner... Read more »

The Money Shot on Health Insurance Premium Increase

Every late September, the Kaiser Family Foundation releases a report on health insurance premium increases. Click here to link to the Health Affairs article. The chart above is one of the most reproduced charts in US health policy -- updated every fall. A picture is worth a thousand words, and this one is worth more than that. The data reflect premium increases from spring 2005 to spring 2006. Read more »

Paul Levy Joins the Blogosphere

Just heard about this. Beth Israel Deaconess President and CEO Paul Levy has started his own blog this past August. Click here to see it. He weighs in on weighty topics such as single payer (he's against it) and SEIU 1199's union drive (he's not wild about that either). He draws a fair number of comments, though not many from critics. Worth checking out. Maybe he'll kick off a trend among other hospital CEOs. Read more »

Non/Small Group Market Merger Commission to Meet

The Special Commission to study the merger of the Non Group and Small Group Insurance Markets will meet on Thursday September 28th from 10 to 11:30 at the offices of the Division of Insurance (One South Station, Boston). We understand the Commission is weighing the three proposals from firms wishing to do the merger study, and that they will vote on their choice at this meeting. The market merger is an important piece of health reform to keep an eye on. Changes in the private insurance market impact not only those who are currently uninsured who will need to purchase insurance, but... Read more »

e-Health in the Big Apple

Last week, HCFA’s E-Health Consumer Advocate, Lisa Fenichel, participated in a meeting, “Developing the Consumer Agenda for Health Information Technology,” sponsored by the United Hospital Fund, located in the Empire State Building. She and nine others, who are involved in health privacy, health information technology, and their intersection, spoke about the national scene, including legislative issues and governmental priorities, and state and regional HIT initiatives. Representatives from organizations in California, New York, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts (Lisa) compared their... Read more »

Health Plans Nationwide Save Money by Investing in Oral Health

In the new MA health reform law, the House and Senate agreed to restore coverage for dental services to 650,000 MassHealth adults. Gov. Romney vetoed the restoration and the House and Senate overrode the veto. Coverage was restored in early July. Keep that in mind when you read excerpts from this article in today's Wall Street Journal on how health plans across the nation are saving money by investing in good oral health. Read more »


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