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

Prescription Drug Reform

Prescription Drugs

Massachusetts Prescription Drug Affordability Coalition Prescription drug prices continue to rise, increasing the cost of health insurance and placing a considerable burden on families as well as the state’s budget. Currently, there is little to no transparency when it comes to the actual costs required to produce a drug, and no mechanism or oversight to ensure that drugs are truly affordable for those who need them. As a result, pharmaceutical companies set arbitrary and opaque prices for drugs, and too many people in Massachusetts cannot access these drugs due to high costs. The MA... Read more »

A Day at the State House: Health Care Financing Committee Hears Testimony on Legislation to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs

Prescription drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them, and too many people in Massachusetts can’t afford the high cost of prescription drugs. Here at Health Care For All (HCFA), we know all too well – from real-life stories and statistical data alike – that this is true. That’s why HCFA is a leading member of the MA Prescription Drug Affordability Coalition, a broad-based coalition representing a wide range of stakeholders, including consumer advocates, seniors, children, individuals with disabilities, providers, provider groups, unions, faith-based groups, mental health organizations and... Read more »

An Rx for Public Health: Prescription Drug Affordability & Transparency

As many of us have experienced first-hand, taking a regular regimen of medication prescribed by a provider can have remarkable effects on the quality of our daily lives and our ability to build a healthy future for ourselves and those around us. Prescription drugs are critical to curing disease, managing medical conditions, controlling debilitating symptoms and helping us avoid the need for more serious and expensive care. In short, prescription drugs bring hope and improved health to individuals and families and contribute to the public health of the Commonwealth every day. Read more »

Consumers Groups Push for Strong Transparency Provisions in Health Care Bill

Health Care For All, along with MassPIRG, Health Law Advocates, Community Catalyst and the Massachusetts Senior Action Council recently wrote a letter on the issue of drug transparency to the conferees meeting to work out a final health care bill. We urged the Conference Committee to include strong transparency measures to help tackle the problem of skyrocketing prescription drug prices. Prescription drug costs are currently the fastest growing healthcare expense – by far. For both public and private plans, increases in pharmacy costs far outpace every other expense. Rising drug prices are... Read more »

HCFA Recommendations to Health Care Bill Conference Committee

With both the House and Senate having passed ambitious health care bills this session, now a joint House-Senate conference committee is hammering out the differences to reconcile the two bills for final passage. Health Care For All recently provided comments to the legislature on our recommendations for provisions  to reduce health care costs, protect consumers, and strengthen our state’s health care system. While Massachusetts has the highest insurance coverage rate in the country, there is still progress to be made to improve the quality and affordability of health care in the Commonwealth... Read more »

FY19 Health Care Budget Priorities

The Massachusetts Senate recently approved their version of the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) state budget. The Senate version and the House version must now be reconciled through negotiation between the two chambers. Health Care For All (HCFA) has a number of budget priorities related to health care that have made it this far and should continue on to the final budget. To find HCFA’s full FY19 Conference Committee letter with detailed explanations of our positions, please click here. You can find summaries of each budget priority that HCFA supports below: Read more »

Contact Your Representative - HCFA's House Budget Amendments

The state House of Representatives released their draft budget this week. The budget funds the state's MassHealth and other health programs, and includes many provision supported by HCFA. Our friends at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute released an outstanding summary of the provisions affecting low income residents, including MassHealth and other health concerns. House budget debate starts on April 24. Read more »

"We know first hand how drug costs are forcing residents to make choices that are not good for their health."

The legislature's Joint Committee on Health Care Financing held a session last week in Springfield, looking at the impact of skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs.  Among those speaking was HCFA Executive Director, Amy Whitcomb Slemmer. She brought real-life examples of the how high drug costs are hurting people in Massachusetts: Read more »

More Thoughts on the CHIA Report ("A blip, not a bloop")

The headline leads today's Globe's front page: Health care costs jump, a setback for Mass. There's no question that today's report from CHIA, with its topline finding of a 4.8% per capita growth in total health care spending in 2014, might lead to the perception that our progress in controlling health care cost growth has hit a bump. Certainly 4.8% exceeds the state's goal of holding spending growth to 3.6% or less. But digging into the report, there's a complex mix of good and bad news, and the report defies simplistic conclusions. So here are a few of our takeaways: Read more »

Governor Baker Vetoes "Academic Detailing" Funds in Budget; We Call on Legislature to Override Veto

On Friday afternoon, Governor Baker issued his line-tem vetoes for the Fiscal Year 2016 budget, which started on July 1. One of the vetoes took us by surprise: "Academic Detailing" is the somewhat obscure name for a valuable, money-saving state program. Here's how we've explained it before:  Read more »

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