A Healthy Blog

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

Health Care Quality

Disease/Care Management -- Preliminary CMS Results Not Promising

For nearly a decade, lots of folks (we included) have been pointing to disease and care management strategies for the chronically ill as an important direction to improve quality of care and lower/control costs. Preliminary results are in for the largest evaluation of this approach to date, and the results are ... disappointing. In 2002, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) picked 15 demonstrations (out of 53 applications -- none principally in MA) to test the worth of a variety of approaches in the Medicare fee-for-service population. The Mathematica Policy... Read more »

More Transitions: To, Not From...

Two new job announcements today involving the two finalists for Executive Director of the Commonwealth Quality and Cost Council: Katharine London, from the Attorney General’s Office, has been hired today as the new executive director of the Commonwealth Quality and Cost Council. London is the council’s first hire. Since 2003, she worked as the director of health policy at the Attorney General’s Public Protection Bureau and from 1996 to 2003 she worked for the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy as director of the Office of Special Policy Initiatives and as policy development manager. Read more »

Herald Covers Hospital Infections

Boston Herald is paying increasing attention to the growing movement to eliminate hospital acquired infections -- click here. Ginney Harvey from Somerville, profiled in the article, is a member of HCFA's Consumer Health Quality Council. “Everyone’s goal should be zero” infections, Griswold said. That's Paula Griswold, Executive Director of the MA Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors. This issue has legs. Time for the Legislature to get involved. Check out the quality legislation sponsored by Sen. Richard Moore and Rep. Denise Provost. Read more »

Update on HCFA v. Romney: One Year Into Remediation

In 2000, HCFA's crack law firm, Health Law Advocates, filed a class action lawsuit in federal court on behalf of HCFA and MassHealth families. The case, HCFA v. Romney, charged state officials with failing to ensure access to oral health for MassHealth members in violation of federal law. US District Court Judge Rya Zobel, ruled in 2005 that the state’s oral health program for MassHealth children violated federal law. HLA and MassHealth submitted a joint remediation plan detailing steps MassHealth will take to fix the program. An independent remediation monitor, Dr. Catherine Hayes, an oral... Read more »

Why Do We Spend So Much on Health Care in Massachusetts?

Out in Chicago this weekend at a conference for new state legislators and legislators new to health care policy – organized every other year by Nat. Conf. of State Legislatures and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Rep. Steve Kulik, new House vice chair of Health Care Financing Committee, was there for MA. Interesting session on healthcare workforce with state-by-state professional data. See if you can observe a trend: (Data is federal from 2002-05.) 1. Category/2. MA Rank among 50 States (low # equals highest) / 3. MA Rate Per 1,000 Pop./ 4. US Rate Per 1,000 Pop. Physicians... Read more »

Children's Mental Health Legislative Hearing -- May 7

A key challenge for the Legislature this year is to fix the awful situation for children's mental health care. A coalition of organizations, led by the Children's Health Access Coalition, has been working for over a year on legislation -- HB 1872/ SB 1133 -- to fix this problem area. Click here for bill summary, and fact sheet. Click here for the House bill text. Lead sponsors are Rep. Ruth Balser and Sen. Steve Tolman. The legislation will get a hearing before the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse on Monday, May 7 starting at 11am in Gardner Auditorium in the State House.... Read more »

MGH and Quality of Hospital Care

Saturday’s Globe had an article about the Joint Commission’s inspection of Massachusetts General Hospital and the deficiencies it found, including insufficient hand washing, errors or potential errors related to medications, problems with medical records, etc. Today’s Globe has an editorial about this issue. Read more »

Herald Covers Apologies

Sunday’s Boston Herald featured two articles examining the issue of allowing doctors to apologize following medical errors and adverse medical events. The lead article mentions the Senator Moore/Representative Provost health care quality bill that HCFA and its Consumer Health Quality Council are supporting. One provision of that bill would allow providers to apologize without that apology being used against them in a court of law. The related article includes quotes from two members of the Consumer Health Quality Council, one of whom received an apology (much to her surprise) and one of whom... Read more »

WaPo Dental Story Misses the Point

Because of lack of access to preventive and restorative oral health care, the Washington Post reported yesterday that a 12-year-old boy died of tooth decay on Sunday. Here is our Watch Your Mouth campaign’s response to this tragedy: This tragic story highlights the need to improve access to routine, preventive oral health for all. The important part of the story is that dental disease is preventable. Still, right here in Massachusetts, nearly half of third graders have a history of dental decay, and more than one quarter are at school with untreated tooth decay and severe infections... Read more »

Some Insurers Find Dental Care Lowers Health Costs

From today's Kaiser Health Policy Report: The Minneapolis Star Tribune on Sunday examined the link between physical and dental health and its effect on the dental industry and insurers. Research by the U.S. surgeon general in 2000 found a link between good oral health and good physical health, and more recent research has found a link between gum disease and various other physical conditions. Although the research is not causal, the observed links "could mean a bonanza for dentistry, which long has been the afterthought of the health care industry." Read more »


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