Mass. House Will Unveil Bill Seeking To Rein In Health Costs

Update at 2:40 p.m.: House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Rep. Steven Walsh have introduced their legislation — the Health Care Quality Improvement and Cost Reduction Act of 2012 — and CommonHealth has the details, including a 12-point recap of the bill's main provisions.

Update at 7 p.m.: In All Things Considered, WBUR's Deborah Becker reported on the parameters of the legislation, and WBUR's Curt Nickisch reported on industry reaction to a so-called "luxury tax" on pricey hospitals.

Original post:

The latest effort to reform health care in Massachusetts — what WBUR's Martha Bebinger yesterday dubbed "Chapter Two" — takes center stage on Beacon Hill today.

During an afternoon news conference, House leaders will unveil their long-awaited legislation to rein in rising health care costs in the state.

As our Newscast unit reported earlier, discussions among legislators and advocates have centered on proposals to do away with the industry's traditional fee-for-service spending model, and instead move toward a system in which providers are given a budget (so-called global payments) for the overall care of each patient.

As Martha reported yesterday in her preview feature:

The House and Senate are expected to build on movements that are already under way: global payments, electronic health records and the increased focus on primary care.

The Senate plans to unveil its version of the legislation next week. Senate President Therese Murray has said she expects the final bill to pass the Legislature by July 1.

The latest health care moves on Beacon Hill come more than a year after Gov. Deval Patrick outlined a bill to give state government more authority over controlling health spending, and more than six years after "Chapter One" — Massachusetts' landmark universal coverage law.

And as Martha reported, this Chapter Two would have significant consequences:

Health care is 18 percent of the Massachusetts economy. Trying to reorganize and reduce health care spending without hurting the health care industry is a high-stakes gamble. And, as [Harvard economics professor David Cutler] points out, the nation is watching.

“A few years ago, Massachusetts was the first state in the country to decide that we can and we will cover everybody,” Cutler said. “And then the rest of the country followed. Now is our opportunity to show that we can make the health care system work for everybody. And if we do that then the rest of the nation will follow as well.”

We'll have much more from Martha and WBUR's CommonHealth blog in the coming days.

This program aired on May 4, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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Benjamin Swasey Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.



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