Coakley: State May Need To Step In To Control Health Costs

BOSTON — The public debate over controlling soaring health care costs continues.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Martha Coakley came out with a wide-ranging report (PDF) in which she found that changing the way we pay for health care may have little effect on reducing costs, unless we stop paying some hospitals two or three times more than others for the same tests or procedures.

There is a lot of talk about asking hospitals and doctors to manage budgets through so-called global, or alternative, payments. One of Gov. Deval Patrick’s top priorities is a bill that would compel this change. Coakley’s report says that prices must be controlled but questions whether global payments will save money.

Consumer advocates are worried about Coakley’s recommendation that consumers join limited network and tiered plans. Health Care for All Director Amy Whitcomb Slemmer says patients often don’t have the price or quality information that would help them make informed choices about

“We don’t know that consumers yet have the tools to appreciate what value they’re getting for their reduction in premiums or for changing the provider networks that they can be seen in,” Whitcomb Slemmer said.

If consumers don’t drive more competition among hospitals and physicians, Coakley said the state may need to step in.

“If the market itself cannot self-correct, then we think that it will be important for temporary statutory measures, we’re not saying what because we’re open to suggestion on that,” Coakley said.

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  • xray

    Coakley said, “then we think “. Is that the Imperial “we”? Under what authority is she investigating medical cost, absent a crime? Let he stick to her bailiwick. Her overreaching political aspirations needs to be recognized and limited.

  • Lcf02139

    Someone needs to investigate HER. She is continued to side with the insurance companies while they continue to rape the public.

    CAN someone please do a  documentary on her, demonstrating her collusion with organized crime, ie. ( the insurance companies.)

  • Virginia in Boston

    The market CANNOT self-correct.  It is an oxymoron in the current healthcare system.  Please examine the constriction of trade inherent in ALL Behavioral Health provider panels in MA.  Behavioral health providers in small practices are shut out of large hospital-based groups, and insurance panels constrict entry stating that there are enough providers of a certain type (iE, psychologists, social workers, etc.etc).  Our small office receives many calls from people looking for care, and their report is that there are not enough providers to treat. Families, children, elderly, and the working poor.  We refer to the larger clinics that we know of where the quality of care is good.  The current system is forcing many behavioral health providers into “boutique care”; only for those people who have cash to spare.  The current system is forcing huge inequality of care in MA.  It is a moral shame, in a state with so much potential.

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