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

Health Care Quality

Quality/Cost Council Announce 2008 Goals

Yesterday, the Quality and Cost Council met to approve annual goals for FY08 to improve quality and lower costs. Here's their press release: The Health Care Quality and Cost Council (HCQCC) yesterday announced its first set of annual statewide goals for improving the quality and controlling the cost of health care in Massachusetts. The Council, created through the 2006 health care reform law, establishes statewide measures to improve health care quality, contain health care costs, and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care. By 2012, the HCQCC seeks to ensure that Massachusetts... Read more »

The Boston Health Care Paradox

The New England Healthcare Institute last week released a report: The Boston Paradox: Lots of Health Care, Not Enough Health Indicators of Health, Health Care and Competitiveness in Greater Boston. Here's NEHI's official description: Greater Boston is a global leader in health care and health technology. Bostonians expect that their world-class health care institutions and related industries will be the source of strong economic growth in the years ahead. But Greater Boston’s growth and its health are vulnerable to a challenge that no global medical center has yet conquered: a rising tide of... Read more »

BIDMC #2: A Novel Hospital Quality Website

It's BIDMC day at Healthy Blog. BIDMC has launched a new website devoted to publicly disclosing its own hospital quality performance data. It's called: "The facts at BIDMC: We're putting ourselves under a microscope." Click here to access it. Most of the data currently available is drawn from public sources such as Hospital Compare by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Read more »

State Measures on Health System Performance: We're #8

First rate study released today by the Commonwealth Fund: Aiming Higher: Results from a State Scorecard on Health System Performance. Compares all 50 states on 2003-2005 date on access, quality, healthy lives, equity, and avoidable hospital use and cost. Click here for the report overview. Here's the part we love the best: Across states, better access to care and higher rates of insurance are closely associated with better quality (Exhibit 3). States with the lowest rates of uninsured residents tend to score highest on measures of preventive and chronic disease care, as well as other... Read more »

Access, Quality and Costs in Today's NYTimes

Two worthwhile reads in today's special health section in the New York Times: First, Reed Abelson describes why "Mandatory Coverage Is Easier Said than Done": Shopping for insurance “is not easy or straightforward,” said Parimal Patel, a retired executive in Bedford, Mass., 20 miles outside of Boston. Mr. Patel and his wife are not eligible for Medicare yet, so he looked for a plan to replace the coverage provided by his former employer. He found a comprehensive policy for both of them for $1,350 a month, he said, several hundred dollars less than the policies available before the state... Read more »

Hospital Competition and the Price of Healthcare

First, it was Charlie Baker in his blog (click here ) talking frankly about the difficulties in this market dealing with the seemingly insatiable desire for and power of academic medical centers (aka: Partners) -- and a fascinating follow up dialogue, now up to 38 comments. Now it's Paul Levy in his blog posting (click here) today wondering -- if Charlie is correct -- why it's worth bothering to compete on better quality and value. Money quote: Read more »

Sigh! Another Promising Idea Bites into a Reality Sandwich

In the health system improvement world, paying hospitals and other providers more to improve medical care (Pay For Performance or P4P) has been hailed as a slam dunk, no-brainer to bolster quality and lower costs. In this week's Journal of the American Medical Association (click here), the promising idea slams into reality. P4P was the only concrete cost-control initiative included in the MA health reform law. Here are excerpts from today's Kaiser Health Policy Report: Read more »

Quality and Cost Council Goals: Send Us Your Comments

As we mentioned in a 5/24 blog entry, the Massachusetts Quality and Cost Council has issued a draft of its goals for FY ’08. They are inviting comments from members of the advisory committee, on which HCFA holds a seat. Send us your comments and we will consider them as we draft our response. Also, please note that the 5/24 blog entry now includes links to draft regulations for collecting claims data from third party payers. Look those over and post your comments. Read more »

Quality and Cost Council Moves To Set FY’08 Goals; Looks at P4P

The Quality and Cost Council met Wednesday with the new Executive Director, Katharine London, officially on board. Katharine announced that an initial website, with basic Council information, meeting locations and times, etc., will be up and running soon through mass.gov. We will notify you when the site is up. Most of the meeting was a presentation about the new MassHealth Pay for Performance Initiative. Here are some excerpts on that conversation from State House News Service: Read more »

Check Out HCFA's Monthly Quality Newsletter

Click here to view HCFA's May Quality newsletter, produced by our new Consumer Health Quality Project. We're proud of this effort -- pretty unique if we do say so ourselves. Each edition includes a profile of one member of the new Council, describing their own circumstances that led to their involvement. It also includes lots of other news about quality improvement activities around town. Click here for www.hcfama.org/signup if you would like to receive the Quality e-newsletter (or any of HCFA's other newsletters) via email each month. Read more »

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