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Once Again, Massachusetts is at the Front

August 3, 2012
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A progressive bill is passed in Massachusetts

This week was a big one for healthcare in my home state of Massachusetts. Along with announcing the creation of a statewide HIE from CMS funds (making them the first state in the nation to receive federal funding participation approval through CMS to create a HIE), lawmakers from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed another landmark bill. Appropriately named the Health Care Cost Control Bill (HCCB), it has a goal of cutting healthcare costs by $200 billion by 2028 by implementing a spending limit.

The bill may have been a long time in the making (I’ve read reports that say there was more than one year of haggling between various lawmakers and interest groups), but it’s another example of how Massachusetts has always been at the forefront of healthcare reform in this country, in my opinion. As most people know, the state’s health care reform act of 2006 set the stage for the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate.

More than just the spending limit, which would restrict the growth of healthcare costs to the same rate of the gross state product (GSP) over the next five years and then slightly below the GSP after that, the bill also has other fascinating, progressive measures. For instance, the bill establishes a certification process for accountable care organizations (ACOs), and gives them a contracting preference in the state health programs. This gives providers more incentive to form ACOs.

In a statement to The Boston Globe, Partners HealthCare CEO Gary Gottlieb, said the bill builds on the strides Massachusetts have made in helping the healthcare delivery model transform from fee-for-service to one “that rewards value and high quality care.” Partners is one of the 32 Pioneer ACOs as named by the CMS late last year.

There are other things about the bill that are encouraging to the healthcare industry, such as the establishment of a certification process for patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) and a requirement of the state’s Medicaid program, the state’s employee healthcare program, and all other state-funded health care programs to transition to new healthcare payment method. It also aims for improvement in transparency by requiring providers to “register with the state and report regularly on financial performance, market share, cost trends, and quality measures.”

There are a few other things within the bill that are worth checking out. The final version is 350 pages but a good outline of the bill can be found here.

Whether it’s the beautiful fall weather, the history of the City of Boston and surrounding towns, or the success of the sports teams, I’m always proud to say I’m from Massachusetts. This week, however, I am especially proud.

What do our readers think of this bill? Good or bad? Leave comments below!