Last night, the conference committee on the health care cost control bill filed its report. Both branches are certain to approve the conference report unchanged later today.
Here are some of the highlights:
- A statewide growth goal for health care costs — limited to the same growth rate as the state’s gross product (with mechanisms to .
- Incentives to support the ongoing industry transition to new payment mechanisms that reward quality and efficiency as opposed to volume.
- Transparency improvements in the health care market place to make it easier for enforcers to monitor abuse of market power and easier for consumers to make informed choices based on cost and quality.
- Increased investment in prevention — $60 million over the next four years and tax credits for work place wellness programs.
- Broader use of physician assistants and nurse practitioners to expand access to primary care.
- Simplification of billing procedures to lower administrative costs.
- Medical malpractice reform (cooling off period and protection of apologies).
- Strengthening protections against insurance rate shocks for small businesses
- Protecting patients from unreasonable denials of care
It’s a big step forward and the lead legislative accomplishment for this session. Health Care for all commented:
This historic legislation affirms Massachusetts’ leadership in consumer focused health care innovation, and we expect the nation will again look to the Massachusetts experience as a model for quality, affordable care for all.
We’ll see how it works over the next few years!
Many feel that next year’s work in the health care area will come back to the issue of high costs for lower middle income people and small businesses. The bill we are passing now may, we hope, reshape the industry and control the overall rate of cost increase, but it won’t actually reduce costs. Necessary responses to the federal health care law may be an occasion to give further attention to access affordability issues.