Payment Reform Commission (finally) Gets Rolling

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There is a lot riding on a group named today that will recommend changes in the way health care is delivered and paid for in Massachusetts.

Here's today's press release:

BOSTON – Friday, January 09, 2009 – Building on efforts to control health care costs in the Commonwealth, Governor Deval Patrick today announced five appointments to a Special Commission on the Health Care Payment System, established to evaluate the health care payment system and recommend reforms that will provide incentives for cost-effective and patient-centered care. Specifically, the group will evaluate innovative methods for health care payment, including medical homes, global budgeting, and capitation rates.

The Commission will be co-chaired by Leslie Kirwan, Secretary of Administration and Finance, and Sarah Iselin, Commissioner of the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy. Other members of the Commission include Dolores Mitchell, the Executive Director of the Group Insurance Commission, and two additional members to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate President.

The Commission was established in Senate President Therese Murray’s cost containment bill that became law in August 2008.

"Health care reform in Massachusetts has been a tremendous success, with more than 97 percent of our residents insured today," said Secretary Kirwan. "However, soaring costs, if left unaddressed, threaten to undo that achievement and stall further progress.

This commission is a cornerstone of our comprehensive efforts to contain health care costs. Our goal is a payment system that promotes high-quality, cost-effective care and avoids unneeded or insufficient treatment. The nominees we have chosen to help reform our current payment system bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to this discussion, and I am confident that they will help us find responsible ways to get health care costs under control."

“The Legislature recognized that our work to sustain our successful health insurance reform would be ongoing,” said Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi. “The health care cost and quality legislation that we enacted in July created this Special Commission as the next step toward ensuring quality and affordable healthcare for hundreds of thousands previously and newly insured residents. We are pleased to see that its work is underway.”

“I am honored to be chosen by Senate President Murray as the Senate Member of the Payment Reform Commission which has the potential to significantly change how we pay for health care,” said Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, who is also Senate Chairman of the Health Care Financing Committee.

"Health care experts agree that reforming provider payment systems is a key strategy for controlling health care cost growth," said Commissioner Iselin. "While there are many efforts underway to reform payment methods in Massachusetts, they are generally uncoordinated and diffuse. Our goal is for the Commission to accelerate the development and implementation of payment system changes that will be effective at moderating cost growth."

The Governor Patrick’s five appointees are leaders in the Massachusetts health care community who represent a diverse group of stakeholders:

· Alice Tolbert Coombs, MD is Vice-President of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Dr. Coombs is a critical care specialist at South Shore Hospital and an anesthesiologist with South Shore Anesthesia Associates.

· Andrew Dreyfus is Executive Vice President of Health Care Services for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Mr. Dreyfus was previously the President of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.

· Deborah Enos is President and Chief Executive Officer of Neighborhood Health Plan and has led the Boston-based HMO since 2005. Ms. Enos also serves as Treasurer for the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans.

· Nancy Kane, DBA, is a Professor of Management and the Associate Dean for Educational Programs at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Kane has published widely on health care finance and management issues and serves on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent agency that advises the U.S. Congress on issues affecting the Medicare program.


· Lynn Nicholas, FACHE, is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Hospital Association. Prior to joining the MHA in 2007, she led the American Diabetes Association.

Other appointments include:

· Christie Hager, Chief Health Counsel to the Speaker, is the House appointee.

· State Senator Richard T. Moore, Senate Chairman of the Health Care Financing Committee, is the Senate appointee.

The first meeting of the Commission is scheduled for Friday, January 16 from 1:00 – 3:00 PM on the basement level of One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108.

This program aired on January 9, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.