Budget Expert: Patrick's $1B Health Care Savings Not Feasible

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In a bare-bones budget, Gov. Deval Patrick is taking aim at health care.

When he released his first spending plan for the next fiscal year, the governor said, "Health care spending under various state programs makes up 39 percentof the state's budget. Between Mass. Health, the Commonwealth Connector and the Group Insurance Commission, state government provides health insurance in whole or in part to over 20 percent of the state's population. That's a lot of buying power, and we intend to use it."

Patrick said he expects to save almost $1 billion through that "buying power" by controlling new costs and changing how the state contracts for coverage. But is that doable?

"In one word, no I don't (think it's doable)," said Mike Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "On the other hand I think this administration is right to go down this road and see if it can achieve more savings out of the Medicare program — something needs to be done. I think the question here is how does he do it, and should he have budgeted this much savings in the budget he presented?"

Widmer joined Morning Edition Thursday to provide a reality check of the governor's plan.

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This program aired on January 27, 2011.

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Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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