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Legislation Launches Statewide Hearings On Health Care Costs

BOSTON — The Legislature begins a series of statewide hearings Monday on one of Gov. Deval Patrick’s top priorities: health care cost control. The governor’s bill would shift from paying for each service to paying hospitals on a budget and ask them to manage the cost of patient care.

Hospitals say they are moving in that direction and don’t need a law. But Patrick says government must make sure that insurers use savings from this payment change to lower premiums.

“They stop at the point when they’ve got their costs down and they don’t have a flow through to reducing premiums,” Patrick said. “They see improvements in their margins, and I understand that as a business person, but the point is that we’ve got to deliver for premium payers.”

Patrick says he expects the Legislature to act on his bill this fall, but House leaders say sometime next year is more likely.

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