Partners Antes Up to Alleviate Health Costs

During hearings last month held by the Patrick administration to determine (and then fix) some of the root causes of escalating health care costs in Massachusetts, Attorney General Martha Coakley laid much of the blame on specific hospitals and hospital systems with so-called "market cache." These providers, the AG said in a detailed report, were basically negotiating higher payments for themselves from insurers, but not necessarily delivering better care for patients.

Now, one of the key culprits of that practice, Partners HealthCare, has offered the state $40 million to offset some of those costs, which have been particularly onerous for small business owners tryng to provide health insurance to their employees, The Boston Globe reports.

The offer by Partners, which operates both MGH and the Brigham hospitals in Boston, is part of a larger package introduced by State Senate President Therese Murray aimed at reining in rising health insurance premums. The Globe reports that Murray's plan:

...offered amid the Patrick administration’s legal battle to cap insurers’ rate hikes, could immediately reduce premiums paid by small employers by 10 to 15 percent, if approved by the Legislature.

The bill would give insurers an option: Peg premium increases to the inflation rate for medical spending or reduce administrative costs and profits. The bill will be filed within a month and be voted on by the Senate soon after, Murray pledged in an interview yesterday.

She said she is asking providers to contribute $100 million this year as part of her plan, which would reduce health insurance premiums for small businesses by about 2.5 percent. The Partners president, Dr. Gary Gottlieb, approached Murray last week, she said, and offered to contribute the $40 million.

This program aired on April 14, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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