A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Market

The Newest Frontier: Health Care and the Attorney General

On Wednesday, Attorney General Martha Coakley spoke at a meeting of Health Law Advocates Health Policy and Law series. She candidly admitted that when she took office in 2007, she had very little knowledge of the health care world and understood that if she was going to succeed at her job, she would need to learn all that she could. But in discussing the analysis from Atul Gawande’s recent piece on healthcare reform in The New Yorker and talking about her office’s initiatives involving health care, Coakley seemed like a health policy regular. Under the guise that all each step her office... Read more »

Kudos to AG Coakley for Updated Community Benefits Guidelines

Yesterday Attorney General Martha Coakley released updated Community Benefit Guidelines for Non Profit Acute Care Hospitals and Health Maintenance Organizations (Links: the guidelines and the press release). The AG and her staff led a thoughtful guideline revision process including convening an Advisory Task Force that worked via consensus to advise the AG (HCFA was honored to serve on the Task Force) and a public comment period. Read more »

Data! Get Your Health Data Here!

The Division of Health Care Finance and Policy recently released two reports that provide an in-depth look into the Health Safety Net and the financial performance of Massachusetts’ hospitals. The Health Safety Net 2008 Annual Report gives an overview of payment experience, utilization patterns, and user demographics in the first year of the Health Safety Net. From Pool Fiscal Year 2007 to Health Safety Net Year 2008, HSN payments to hospitals and community health centers were reduced by 38%. The first 6 months of HSN08 compared to the same period in the prior year revealed a: Read more »

The Division of Insurance’s Health Care Access Bureau Reports on Health Care Costs

The Health Care Access Bureau, the Division of Insurance bureau charged (by Chapter 58) with oversight of the small group and non-group markets and affordable health insurance, took its first major action last month when it released two reports on health care costs.  Read more »

Transcript Exposes MEGA Scams

Friday's North Adams Transcript carried an article exposing the continued scams by Mega Life and Health Insurance company. AG Martha Coakley is deep into a multi-count litigation against the firm, yet they continue to try to sell their inadequate coverage to people who think they are getting a bargain. Read more »

In What Respect, Charlie: Again Calling Out the Mandated Benefits Fallacy

This time it's Harvard Pilgrim Health Care CEO Charlie Baker who misreads the DHCFP report on the cost of mandated insurance benefits. In his own blog, and in reprinted comments on the widely-read national "The Health Care Blog," Charlie repeats the claim that our "mandated health insurance benefits cost insurance purchasers about $1.3 billion - or 12% of their premiums - each year." Read more »

E-Health: The Globe Turns It Over

Today's Boston Globe editorial, "Better data for better health," touts the work of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative (MAeHC), a three-community pilot project that has been working over the past four years to convert clinician offices from paper to computerized health records, and then connect them to one another, and to the hospitals, community-wide. (This work is primarily supported by $50 million from Blue Cross Blue Shield, which will have run out by the end of 2008.) On this transformation from paper to digital records, which is in its final stages, rests the hopes of everyone... Read more »

AMA Council Calls for End to Pharma Industry Funding of Medical Education

The American Medical Association’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs submitted a report to the AMA calling for a prohibition on the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industry’s support of professional medical education. (Related sidenote: the catering industry's plea to legislators to allow them to continue to keep doctors from starving by allowing a loophole for drug-company paid lunches has drawn a lively debate at Blue Mass Group. Read "PhRMA gift ban: Save The Sandwiches!") The Council, which is charged with developing AMA’s ethics policies, conducted a literature... Read more »

HW&M Chairman DeLeo on the Gift Ban

From State House News yesterday: "... A Senate effort to ban all gifts from pharmaceutical firms to health care workers is the most contentious piece of Senate President Therese Murray’s health care cost control proposal, House Ways and Means chair Rep. Robert DeLeo said today. “I’ve heard from a lot of folks on that,” he said. “That would be by far, I think, the largest single item in that bill that’s getting a lot of attention.” Biopharma executives have sharply criticized the ban, saying it would send the message that Massachusetts is unfriendly to the life sciences, an industry... Read more »

The Legislature Advances a Bill Prohibiting Pharma from Using our Prescription Information to Market Drugs to Doctors

In its final executive session of the legislative session, the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing favorably reported Financial Services Committee House Chair Representative Mariano’s bill (H. 1005) that would prohibit a pharmaceutical marketing practice known as “data-mining.” Read more »

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