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

Health Care Quality

Quality & Cost Council Convenes

On my second day at Health Care For All as the new Consumer Health Quality Coordinator, I had the opportunity to attend the initial meeting of the Health Care Quality and Cost Council (see agenda, and introductory powerpoint). The Council was established under the health reform legislation (see August 14 blog entry for a list of the Council’s members) with the mission of establishing quality improvement and cost containment goals for Massachusetts. The main objective is to promote health care that is safe, effective, timely, efficient, equitable and patient-centered (the 6 key aspects of... Read more »

Culture, Not Malpractice, Keeps Docs from Apologizing

The best definition I ever heard for the word "culture" is: "the way we do things around here" -- wherever here may be. The definition comes to mind as I read this account from the Kaiser Daily Health Report on a new study about why docs fail to inform patients about medical errors: Read more »

Quality and Cost Council to Meet

One of the health reform sideshows -- which may be center act in the next legislative session -- was the creation of a Quality and Cost Council to identify health system changes with the potential to lower costs and improve quality, and to develop a consumer quality and cost website. Word arrives today the first meeting of the Q&C Council has been set been set for August 23 from 1-3pm -- location not clear (we'll let you know) at 1 Ashburton Place, 21st floor. These are the members, according to today's Health Reform Update filed by the Romney Administration: Read more »

Legislature Overrides Romney Veto of PCA Bill (now Law)

Congrats to Service Employees International Union 1199 for a huge legislative win. Yesterday, the House and Senate overwhelmingly overrode Gov. Romney's veto of the so-called PCA bill. Read more »

Details from HCFA's e-Health Conference

Click here for details on HCFA's (and Massachusetts') first-ever conference on consumers and e-Health. About 50 folks came together on June 23rd to learn about national and state developments in this complex and fast moving arena. Chris Rowland from the Globe wrote a good account of the session -- click here. At HCFA's e-Health page, you can download presentations from David Lansky of the Markle Foundation and Micki Tripathi from the Mass. e-Health Collaborative (MAQeHC), plus HCFA's early and first cut evaluation of how well the MAeHC is doing with regard to consumer privacy,... Read more »

Nothing Done To Us or For Us Without Us

For the second time in less than a year, the Romney Administration is embarking on an initiative to draw consumers into health quality and cost issues -- and leaving consumers out of the process. Background: the National Governors Association recently invited Governors to apply to send teams to a "policy academy" to develop state plans to improve health care quality. The Massachusetts proposal includes about two dozen references to their intention to engage consumers, and lists a team of eight public and private officials that includes, you guessed it, no consumer. Several weeks ago, the... Read more »

Great New Health Literacy Resource

If you don't know Helen Osborne, then you don't know one of the most practical and smart experts on Health Literacy around. Helen runs her own health literacy consulting practice in Natick and is the founding director of health literacy month (October), an international campaign to raise awareness about the important of understandable health information. Just got hold of Helen's new book -- Health Literacy from A to Z -- and it's first rate, with loads of useful information and insight, an indispensible resource for anyone who wants to understand and work on this issue. Read more »

Teens Win a Round on Beacon Hill

This entry is from our Teen organizer, Amy Katzen: Members of Teens Leading The Way were excited when An Act Establishing Teen Mental Health Drop-In Centers was reported favorably to The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing in late May. They were also nervous; few legislators from this committee knew the group and there was not much time to change that. Knowing that an executive session was scheduled for Wednesday, June 14, the group targeted their efforts carefully. A Boston teen took time from her busy finals schedule to meet with staff from Rep. Walrath’s office, answering questions... Read more »

Your Government at Work -- Transparency in Action

You read it here first: The first meeting of the new Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Insurance Connector -- the pivotal new agency charged with implementing key parts of Chapter 58, the new Health Reform Law -- will take place on Wednesday morning, June 7th at 9 a.m. It will be held in the State House, Room 373, Conference Room 2. Hmmmm. Seems like they're not expecting to see much of the public as they gather together. Read more »

Does US Have Most Advanced Health System? Apparently Not

We know the US health system is the least efficient on the planet, the costliest, and the least equitable. The one thing I always thought was true was that we have the most technologically advanced health system on the planet. Wrong again. Boy, am I dumb. An article in the May/June Health Affairs (subscription required) by Gerard Anderson et al concludes: "The United States lags as much as a dozen years behind other industrialized countries in Health Information Technology [HIT] adoption -- countries where national governments have played major roles in establishing the rule, and health... Read more »


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