A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Quality

MA Dental Society Urges Members to Become MassHealth Providers

Kudos to the Massachusetts Dental Society. At its Annual House of Delegates meeting on 5/11/07, the Society officially approved a resolution encouraging all its 4,000+ active members to enroll in the MassHealth (Medicaid) dental program. “Today, the Massachusetts Dental Society has taken the important step of approving a resolution encouraging member dentists to participate in the MassHealth dental program,” says Dr. Andrea Richman, president of the MDS. “Reducing some of the barriers in obtaining dental care is critical to the overall health of every citizen. Read more »

Here's a Way to Improve Quality and Lower Costs

Here's an idea for the Quality and Cost Council from today's NYT: ...a hospital group in central Pennsylvania is trying to learn in an experiment that some experts say is a radically new way to encourage hospitals and doctors to provide high-quality care that can avoid costly mistakes. The group, Geisinger Health System, has overhauled its approach to surgery. And taking a cue from the makers of television sets, washing machines and consumer products, Geisinger essentially guarantees its workmanship, charging a flat fee that includes 90 days of follow-up treatment. Even if a patient suffers... Read more »

Health Foundation of Central MA Gets Well Deserved Recognition

Kudos to the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, which was just nationally recognized as one of 25 foundations or projects across the US that use innovative evaluation approaches in their philanthropy work. The recognition comes from FSG Social Impact Advisors, and their work is in some hefty company, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation with $2.9 billion in assets and one $40 million project funded by the Gates Foundation to address homelessness in Puget Sound, Washington. Click here access to the full case study which includes HFCM. HFCM doesn't get much notice around Boston.... Read more »

Newsflash: Lowering Co-Pays Can Save Money

Several years ago, we reported in this space how manufacturer Pitney-Bowes discovered they could save dollars by eliminating co-pays for medications for certain chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma. It's now a bona fide corporate trend, as reported in today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required): Over the past decade, health plans have sought to save money by shifting costs onto workers and encouraging them to use lower-cost generics. But the new model -- which involves lowering or eliminating copayments on medications for chronic illnesses -- makes better medical sense. And... Read more »

Kids' Mental Health Campaign Off to a Great Start

See today's Boston Globe lead editorial on the need for children's mental health sytem reform. Today, some 300 advocates for children's mental health reform filled a hearing of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Click here for full information on this amazing campaign. Those who followed the road to Chapter 58, the MA health reform law, know it was far from a textbook case of legislative advocacy. Messy for sure. This campaign, so far, is as good as it gets. The MA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC) and Children's Hospital teamed up... Read more »

BMG on Health Reform Surprises and a Harrowing Medical Encounter

The always-engrossing Blue Mass Group has two health related posts that should be required reading. A Skeptic's Praise discusses some folks' surprise that the MA health reform law is working better than expected, at least for some. And not all agree. My Ten Hour Experience at North Shore Medical Center is an account of a medical encounter none of us should have to endure. Read the comments to appreciate how we each take our own special meaning from any single story. Read more »

Notes from a National Patient Safety Conference

Two HCFA staff members and two members of the HCFA Consumer Health Quality Council are attending the National Patient Safety Foundation’s (NPSF) Annual Congress in Washington, DC. Deb Wachenheim, HCFA’s Consumer Health Quality Coordinator, and Lucilia Prates, Consumer Council member (and new appointee to the MA Public Health Council), co-presented at a workshop about consumer advocacy for quality improvement. The workshop included two other presenters talking about a project in Texas. Lucilia told the story of her father’s death as a result of a hospital acquired infection and how that... Read more »

Next Week Is Kids Mental Health Week ... Monday Is the Day

Next week is national Children's Mental Health Week -- a week to value accomplishments and a week to recommit to fixing a badly broken system. In Massachusetts, you can start the week off with a bang. The Legislature's Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse is scheduled to hear the omnibus children's mental health bill - HB 1872/ SB 1133 - at 11 AM in Gardner Auditorium at the State House in Boston. This legislation is sponsored by Rep. Ruth Balser and Sen. Steve Tolman, along with a unique consortium of organizations committed to fixing kids' mental health in this legislative... Read more »

Two Neat New Tools on Kids Health Coverage

Check out these two new tools on children's health insurance coverage from the Kaiser Family Foundation: First is a national children's health coverage timeline covering the last 40+ years -- click here. Nicely interactive and user friendly. Great shorthand history update. Read more »

Quality/Cost Council April Meeting Notes

The Quality and Cost Council held its April meeting today. The Council approved sending out a job offer letter to Katharine London for Executive Director. The Council reviewed proposed by-law changes which, in a nutshell, include a new section regarding the duties of the new Executive Director (including the ability to hire additional employees); a new section allowing the Council to hold executive sessions (but not take any action or make any decision during such session) by majority votes; and a section regarding the rewarding of contracts. Read more »


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