A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Market

Cost Control Hearing: Weds., 3/12, 1pm, Gardner Aud. at State House

Senate President Therese Murray released her anticipated health control cost legislation last Monday. An Act to Promote Cost Containment, Transparency and Efficiency in the Delivery of Quality Health Care (Senate 2526) touches numerous aspects of health care and aims to focus all eyes on health care cost reform. We are pleased to see in the legislation many HCFA’s cost control ideas, along with ideas from the MA Prescription Reform Coalition, Consumer Health Quality Council, and the eHealth Initiative. Highlights include: Read more »

Cost Control: What Are YOUR Ideas...?

See Andrew Shalit's comment on yesterday's post re: Sen. Pres. Murray's cost control package: Andrew Shalit Says: March 4th, 2008 at 1:25 am e Do these cost control measures include any steps to target the outrageously high c-section rate in Massachusetts? There is no reason that 30% of births in Massachusetts should be performed by c-section. Every c-section birth costs several thousand dollars more than a vaginal birth. (The last estimate I saw put it at about $7,000 more per birth.) Multiply that out, and you have potential savings in the tens of millions of dollars annually, possibly over... Read more »

Health Care Reform, Phase II, Is Here

Today, Senate Pres. Therese Murray was joined by Sen. Dick Moore and a dozen-plus other senators at UMass Medical School as she introduced her much-anticipated health care cost control legislation. She didn’t disappoint. The 38-point package speaks to numerous aspects of health care and aims to focus all eyes on the Commonwealth as we lead in cost reform as we have with access reform. The President called this is a defining moment – we must act now to take on escalating health care costs that threaten health reform, access and quality. Murray said rising health costs aren’t new – but the... Read more »

Sen. Pres. Proposes Statewide eHealth System and Ban on Drug Industry Gifts

From State House News -- we'll have more comments once we've reviewed the proposal. Statewide electronic health records and banning gifts from pharmaceutical companies -- not a bad start at all! Read more »

It's Not Just Drug Companies Doing It...

From today's Washington Post, check out this story about the relationships between medical device makers and some/many surgeons who use their devices: Four makers of artificial hips and knees paid doctors more than $800 million in royalties and fees in four years to influence their choice of implants, a U.S. investigator told Congress. The unidentified companies control about three-quarters of the $9.4 billion worldwide market for hips and knees, said Gregory E. Demske, an assistant inspector general at the Health and Human Services Department, at a hearing yesterday of the Senate Special... Read more »

Sen. Pres. Murray to Release Cost Control Proposal on Monday

From today's State House News Service, much anticipated: Senate President Therese Murray, who has been working on legislation to control rising health care costs, will outline her proposal Monday in Worcester. In a media advisory, Murray's office said her bill will "advance the next phase of health care reform in Massachusetts." Murray will host a press conference at 11 am at UMass Medical School, where she will be joined by Health Care Financing Committee Co-chairman Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge), UMass President Jack Wilson, and UMass Medical School Chancellor Michael Collins. Critics... Read more »

Essential Cost Control Reading: "Overtreated"

Word is that Sen. President Therese Murray's cost control legislative proposal is coming soon -- maybe this week or next. As we kick off what we hope will be a vigorous cost control discussion, it may be helpful to start with a joint reading project. I have a book suggestion -- Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer -- by Shannon Brownlee of the New America Foundation. Health policy specialists identify three categories of poor quality -- underuse of necessary care, misuse of care, and overuse of unnecessary care. Overtreated is an entire volume devoted to... Read more »

CPOE: No More Excuses

This morning, the MA Technology Collaborative and New England Healthcare Institute held an event to release a study on implementation in MA of Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) systems. These systems replace the 19th century method of writing prescription orders, automating the order writing function and incorporating clinical decision support to avoid medication errors. They have been in place in many teaching hospitals for over a decade. The study examined how they could be implemented in a representative group of six MA community hospitals. Read more »

Consumers Union Starts Campaign on Drug Side Effects

Consumers Union, non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, has just launched a campaign to make it easier for consumers to report serious side effects of medications to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). CU has filed a petition to the FDA, requesting the agency to require a toll-free number and web site in all TV drug ads for consumers to report side effects. CU is hoping to gather 50,000 signatures in support. Drug companies often fail to present the benefits and risks of the products they advertise, and it often isn’t until a drug is out on the market and taken by millions that we... Read more »

GIC Joins MA Prescription Reform Coalition

The Massachusetts Prescription Reform Coalition, which launched earlier this month, continues to welcome new members. The coalition is excited to welcome the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Group Insurance Commission to its membership this week. Dolores Mitchell is a tireless champion for access to prescription drugs, quality health care and cost control as the GIC’s Executive Director and as members of the Connector Board and the Quality and Cost Council. We couldn’t have a better ally in our efforts to promote evidence-based, unbiased prescribing and access to appropriate and affordable... Read more »


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