Patrick Unveils Plan To Curb Health Care Costs

BOSTON — Nearly five years after Massachusetts passed a near-universal health coverage law, Gov. Deval Patrick is filing a bill he says will make sure citizens can afford that coverage.

Speaking to to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Thursday, Patrick unveiled legislation that attempts to work with the health care industry to lower costs. The governor says he will work with a broad coalition of health care providers, business groups and consumer advocates on major payment changes.

Patrick’s legislation aims to reduce health care spending by putting most doctors and hospitals on a budget, with bonuses tied to patient health.

“There is no financial incentive in the current system for good care, only for more care,” Patrick said.

A new state council would set rules for so-called “global payments,” and the administration is requesting more authority to limit insurance rate increases. The bill the governor filed includes less government oversight than some in the industry had expected.

Patrick said Massachusetts led the way in providing health insurance for all and is “poised to lead again on health care cost containment.”

About 98 percent of state residents are now insured.

“We led the nation to the most successful model ever, if anyone is going to crack the code on cost containment, it will be we here in the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” he said.

Health industry leaders support some of the goals of Patrick’s bill, but argue they can reduce health care costs without more government regulation.

The state’s insurers have recommended a cautious approach, saying that before pushing a global payment system, the state needs to even out how much hospitals and doctors can charge.

In the same health care market, costs for similar tests and procedures can vary wildly, insurers said, and the state needs to create a more level playing field.

Health care advocacy groups, however, have urged lawmakers to act quickly, saying the recession has led to a jump in the number of people struggling to pay health care premiums.

With reporting from WBUR’s Martha Bebinger. Material from the Associated Press was used.


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  • madhatter13

    Oh…we are worried about the costs to citizens now…now that the whole law has been ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL in the first place…why did it take 5 YEARS to realize that the insurance companies have been GOUGING the people since the stupid law was passed? Not only is the law UNCONSTITUTIONAL, but it has caused a tremendous financial burden on all those who are expected to pay fpr the policy BY THEMSELVES, with NO contribution from their employer (this is LEGAL, as long as they pay their whopping $295 PER YEAR fine!) with a family plan costing as much as $1,500.00 per month!…more than some people’s whole paycheck. THis law needs to be RESCINDED at the legilature’s eariest opportunity, and ALL fines and penalties payed by the OPPRESSED citizens of this BAD LAW needs to be REFUNDED…with interest!!!!

    • LearnTheLaw

      “ALL fines and penalties payed by the OPPRESSED citizens of this BAD LAW needs to be REFUNDED…with interest!!!! ”

      You clearly are unaware that portion of the law isn’t even in place yet. In addition, those who cannot afford the large monthly payments you mention will be subsidized to help cover the cost.

      The proposed law is far from perfect, but at least it is a step in the right direction. Curbing costs is a separate and perhaps even more important issue to your average person.

      • Ponic

        As long as doctors and hospitals can be sued for a million dollars for missing a rare tumor, they are going to order thousands of dollars of tests looking for that rare tumor every time a patient sneezes. If a doctor told you there was a 99% chance your pain was a stomach virus and a 1% chance it was something more significant, and a $2000 CAT scan might show the difference, would you ask for the scan? You would probably never be asked because the doctor wouldn’t even take a 1/2 % chance while the lawyers are advertising on TV that they want to be the ones to bring that large lawsuit against him.

    • Horace

      Which constitution does it violate, the Constitution of the United States of America (COTUS), or that of the Commonwealth itself? It doesn’t vioalte the COTUS, as states have every right to enactl their own health car laws; those that have been deemed legal under their own constitution. The federal courts only have jurisdiction over powers within the scope of the federal government. Obamacare was held to be unconstitutional by federal judges because the federal government tried to excercise power that it doesn’t have. The federal government has no authority to force individual citizens to engage in commerce that would otherwise not take place. States may do this, however, if within the lawful the scope of their own constitutions, but why any citizen would choose to put such power in the hands of a body of politicians I will never understand. As has been the argument with the federal authorities power, why would any citizen desire to give their government such tyranny over them? The people would obtain a little security in return for the loss of precious freedom.

  • Patricia Randazzo

    Has the governor read the article “The Hot Spotters” by Atul Gawande in the January 24, 2011 edition of “The New Yorker”? There are good ideas here as to how to accomplish the end that he wants

  • http://twitter.com/josharchambault Josh Archambault

    Thoughts on Governor Deval Patrick’s speech this morning about phase II of health reform in Massachusetts: cost containment.

    Broad themes

    1. He deserves credit for putting the first bill on the table.
    2. As has been the case for almost a year, the devil is still in the details. The speech did not do much to illuminate, but it did serve to take a few things off the table. Much of the implementation of this bill will play out in the regulatory space anyway.
    3. This is a longer term play. There are real problems happening now, especially for small businesses, and there should be concern that many of them cannot hold on till these policy debates resolve and take hold in the next 4-10 years.

    Political question:

    Where are the Senate President and Speaker on the bill? Why were they not able, over a couple year period, to get agreement on four seemingly basic provisions of the bill? Two possibilities, one or both want to reserve their right going forward. Or more likely, one of them disagrees with the conversation about the regulatory environment that is being envisioned.

    For more breakdown copy and paste link: http://bit.ly/gVSAP0

  • Horace

    The governor is a fool. Any attempt to artificially limit insurance rates or doctor fees distorts the marketplace. The few people with the intellect to become doctors will no longer practice within the Commonwealth and eventually insurance companies will no longer find it profitable to stay in business. Both will result in disaster for the people.

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