A Healthy Blog

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

Private Market

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 »

Confidentiality Bill Passes Senate

Health Care For All applauds the decisive vote to pass An Act to Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare (S. 2138) by the Massachusetts Senate today. This legislation will prevent the disclosure of sensitive health care information through an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) form received by someone other than the patient. Read more »

Patient Confidentiality Protection Legislation Moves Forward

In a step towards victory for patient privacy, the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committees on Financial Services and Health Care Financing reported favorably on one of HCFA’s legislative priorities, “An Act to protect access to confidential healthcare.”  The new bill, S. 2081, sponsored by Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Kate Hogan, is now before the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Read more »

Testimony at State House hearing highlights importance of patient confidentiality

Yesterday advocates, consumers, health providers, and legislators convened at the Joint Committee on Financial Services public hearing to provide testimony in support of S. 557 / H. 871, An Act to protect access to confidential health care. The bill would eliminate frighteningly common confidentiality breaches in health insurer communications by allowing patients to choose where and how they receive explanation of benefits (EOB) forms. Read more »

CHIA Report: Mass Uninsurance Rate Low. But Costs Still a Barrier to Care

The recently released 2017 Massachusetts Health Insurance Survey from the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) found that at only 3.7 percent, the uninsurance rate in the Commonwealth remains well below the rest of the nation. Nevertheless, insurance coverage does not automatically translate into health care access, and with nearly one in ten Massachusetts residents underinsured, it is clear there is more to the story of Bay Staters’ ability to get the care they need when they need it. Read more »

Senate Passes Comprehensive Health Care Bill

Last week, the state Senate considered over 150 amendments proposed to their comprehensive health care cost control package, titled the HEALTH Act, for Health Empowerment and Affordability while Leveraging Transformative Health care (see our initial thoughts on the bill here). After spending two full days discussing and voting on amendments, the Senate approved the bill right at midnight on November 9. The final Senate bill, incorporating all the amendments, is expected to be numbered S. 2211, and so should be available online here. Read more »

Open Enrollment Season is Upon Us

The Health Connector's Open Enrollment period has begun, and with it, the opportunity for people to sign up for health insurance or renew their coverage for 2017. In Massachusetts, ten insurers are offering up 62 different plans for the next year. During this year’s Open Enrollment, it is especially important for Health Connector members to review their plan and compare their options, as some changes have been enacted that may affect their coverage. Some Connector members will be facing substantial increases in monthly premiums. About 70,000 notices from the Health Connector will be going out... Read more »

Cool Infographic on Promoting High-Value Care

When high-value care is delivered effectively, everybody wins. Patients experience better health outcomes, payers save money in the long run, and providers are better able to care for their patients. But the system needs to help patients focus on high-value care. At HCFA, we are committed to breaking down barriers to high-value care. Our "No Co-Pay bill" would eliminate cost-sharing for high-value preventive care, like asthma inhalers or hypertension drugs. The Health Connector's decision last month to eliminate copays for medication-assisted treatment for addiction reflected a similar... Read more »

Drug Coupons: A Double-Edged Sword in Need of Further Review

At first glance, discounts on prescription drug copays via “coupons” seem like an enticing offer. Many patients struggle to afford their copays. Until 2012, Massachusetts banned drug coupons for fear that they would ultimately result in higher costs for the whole healthcare system. When the ban was lifted, the plan was to allow drug coupons temporarily, until 2015, and to conduct a study on the cost ramifications.  What happened next is typical: the study never happened, and the sunset date was extended to 2017. And now, a rider was added in the House version of the 2017 state budget that... Read more »

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