For Immediate Release - October 06, 2015

HEALTH POLICY COMMISSION RECEIVES GRANT TO EMPOWER CONSUMERS AND EMPLOYERS TO LOWER HEALTH CARE COSTS

Funding from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will allow HPC to better understand what factors influence consumer choice of health care providers

BOSTON –Tuesday, October 6, 2015 – The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) today received a grant for approximately $300,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to address consumer perceptions of value in a changing health care landscape. The HPC was selected as one of 11 awardees as part of a highly competitive application process, with nearly 180 proposals submitted altogether. The award and initiative will be implemented over a 12-month period from Oct. 2015 – Sept. 2016. This is the first private grant award in the HPC’s almost three year history.

 

“This grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is an incredible opportunity for the HPC and the Commonwealth to understand what influences consumers’ decisions and to empower them to make more value-based choices,” said David Seltz, Executive Director, Health Policy Commission. “HPC research has shown that Massachusetts residents use high-cost teaching hospitals at a much higher rate than the nation, and that for routine procedures, these hospitals often do not have appreciably better quality than community hospitals. This research will provide crucial insights to support design of policies and incentives to support consumers in making high-value choices. We look forward to working with our partners on this important initiative and thank the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their support of our work.”

 

The research funded by this award will complement and advance HPC’s on-going work in understanding consumer perspective of value and how varied benefit designs and non-financial levers influence consumer decisions of setting. The Health Policy Commission, in partnership with researchers Drs. Amy Lischko and Susan Koch-Weser of Tufts University School of Medicine, received the grant of $298,417. This initiative is consistent with previous HPC research and is based on enhancing market-driven approaches to lowering health care costs through incentivizing and empowering consumers to make value-based choices. Supporting consumers in making value-based choices lowers health care costs both directly, when a lower-cost provider is chosen, and indirectly, through higher-cost providers facing more price-competitive pressure.

 

“Health care quality and cost information is increasingly available, yet frequently confusing and underutilized,” said Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director, Health Care for All. “We are excited to see the results of HPC’s grant work as it enhances our understanding of how consumers choose their health care providers and incorporate value into their decision making.  I am confident that this work will serve as an important model for the nation.”

 

“The Retailers Association of Massachusetts works with its members and their employers to reduce overall health care costs and this grant will help our organization and members as they seek to provide access to high quality, low cost services to their employees,” said Jon Hurst, President, Retailers Association of Massachusetts. “We are pleased to support the HPC in this innovative work and believe it will benefit consumers, employers and policymakers, both in Massachusetts and across the nation.”

 

As part of the initiative, the Health Policy Commission and partnering researchers will use hospital discharge and claims data, conduct focus groups, utilize an online survey, and complete key informant interviews of policy leaders across the nation to examine consumer perspectives on the value of different care settings. The initiative will have a strong focus on community health systems versus academically affiliated systems for services that are high volume and of varying cost, can be planned in advance, and may be performed in a broad set of care settings, such as birth as well as uncomplicated hip and knee replacements. The research will focus on Massachusetts and examine how consumer perceptions of value vary across cost, quality, and other factors such as wait-time and travel distance; the research will also explore the national policy implications of Massachusetts findings, furthering the trend of Massachusetts leading the way in innovative health care reforms. 

 

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The HPC's mission is to advance a more transparent, accountable, and innovative health care system through independent policy leadership and programs. Our goal is better health and better care at a lower cost across the Commonwealth. To learn more, please visit www.mass.gov/hpc or follow us on Twitter @Mass_HPC.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.