For Immediate Release - April 07, 2015

Rep. Mariano, AG Healey File Bill to Protect Consumers From Higher Healthcare Costs

Bill Strengthens Coordination between Health Policy Commission and AG’s Office; Designates HPC Report as Evidence of Consumer Protection Violations

BOSTON - Attorney General Maura Healey and House Majority Leader Ron Mariano (D – Quincy) announced today they are filing legislation that strengthens the efforts of the Attorney General’s Office and the Health Policy Commission to protect consumers from higher health care prices and other negative impacts from changes in the healthcare marketplace.

An Act Relative to Protecting Health Care Consumers strengthens the impact of the Health Policy Commission’s (HPC) Cost and Market Impact Review by designating the report as evidence that a proposed merger or acquisition is a violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act.

Under current law, the HPC report does not clearly establish a prima facie, or presumptively true, case that the provider has engaged in an unfair method of competition or unfair and deceptive trade practice in violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act. Instead the current statute states only that the HPC report “may be evidence” in any action brought by the AG.

Additionally, the legislation would allow the report to be considered strong enough evidence that the AG’s Office could use it to seek a temporary block of a proposed transaction between health care organizations.

“One of the greatest challenges our state faces is rising health care costs,” AG Healey said. “As the marketplace continues to steadily evolve, this legislation allows us to better protect our residents from rising costs and limited choice. I look forward to working with the legislature and many stakeholders to move this bill forward.”

“This legislation continues to advance the mission that the legislature has been on for years: to control the growth of health care spending by families, businesses, and the state. This change will ensure that the Attorney General has all the tools needed to use the objective market analysis provided by the Health Policy Commission to advance that mission and protect consumers,” said Majority Leader Mariano.

Consistent with current law, the HPC’s report would be referred to the AG’s Office if the HPC determines that a provider will likely gain a dominant market share, charge higher prices for services and increase its medical spending.

The legislation would continue to provide the AG’s Office with sole discretion to bring litigation. If the office brings an action based on the HPC’s report, any potential transaction would be put on hold, pending the outcome of the litigation.