Over the last several years, the Commonwealth has taken significant steps to expand access to health care services and insurance coverage for residents. As a result of the 2006 passage of the Commonwealth’s landmark health care reform law, more than 98 percent of Massachusetts residents now have health care coverage, including 99.8 percent of children. Massachusetts ranked #1 in Access on the Commonwealth Fund’s state scorecard in 2009. As of 2010, the percentage of private companies offering health insurance to their employees was 77%, up from 70% before the bill was passed, and 69% nationwide. Lastly, in 2005, Massachusetts paid more than $700 million for health care for the uninsured and underinsured; in Fiscal Year 2011, we spent about $400 million – nearly $300 million less.

Similarly, Massachusetts has received high marks for its prevention and health promotion efforts. In the 2011 report of the United Health Report – America’s Health Rankings, Massachusetts was recognized as the 5th healthiest state in the nation as indicated by factors such as smoking levels, obesity rates, infant mortality and premature deaths.

While Massachusetts has much to be proud of, improving health outcomes and decreasing the high costs of health care remain as growing concerns for Massachusetts residents. Health care spending has increased 130% over the past 10 years versus only 26% for the Consumer Price Index.

In 2011, the Patrick-Murray administration highlighted health care cost containment as an administration priority. Accordingly, EOHHS is taking actions aimed specifically at controlling rising health care costs and making quality health care more accessible for residents. These reform efforts focus on both payment and system reforms recognizing the intrinsic link between the quality of health care service delivery and associated costs. These reforms build upon the successful expansion of coverage and align incentives to enhance value and achieve savings; promote high-quality patient-centered care; and ensure accountability and transparency.

In 2012, Governor Patrick signed Chapter 224, an Act Improving the Quality of Health Care and Reducing Costs through Increased Transparency, Efficiency, and Innovation. Chapter 224 includes a comprehensive set of strategies for cost containment, including setting a target for health care cost growth, promoting payment and delivery system reform, improving transparency, supporting prevention and wellness, reforming the malpractice system, and implementing health resource planning.

In parallel there is recognition that in order for Massachusetts’ residents to achieve their optimal health, efforts must also focus on the conditions in their neighborhoods, workplaces and schools. Evidence-based policies, programs, systems and environmental changes are needed to make the healthy choice the easy choice. These health promotion-oriented activities will ultimately contribute to the efforts to reduce health care costs by avoiding the need to treat preventable illnesses and injuries.

Strategic Goals

  1. Maintain access to health care and reduce disparities in access
  2. Improve the quality of health care in all clinical settings
  3. Reduce the cost of health care through system redesign, payment reform, and the use of HIT
  4. Improve care coordination for high risk populations: people with chronic disease, including cognitive, mental, behavioral and substance use disorders
  5. Improve the health of individuals, families and communities

This information is from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.