"Today, we take our next big step forward. Massachusetts has been a model to the nation for access to health care. Today we become the first to crack the code on cost."
- Governor Patrick, Health Care Cost Containment Bill Signing, August 2012
Massachusetts leads the nation in health care coverage for its residents. Thanks to our successful implementation of the 2006 landmark health care reform law, more than 98% of Massachusetts residents have health care coverage, including 99.8% of children – something no other state in America has achieved.
In 2012, the Patrick Administration launched the next phase of health care reform, signing legislation that builds on the Commonwealth's nation-leading access to care through landmark measures that will lower costs and make quality, affordable care a reality for all Massachusetts residents.
The Next Step Forward in Health Care
Achieve Billions in Savings:
- Sets a first-in-the-nation target for controlling the growth of health care costs. The law holds the annual increase in total health care spending to the rate of growth of the state’s Gross State Product (GSP) for the first five years, through 2017, and then even lower for the next five years, to half a percentage point below the economy’s growth rate, and then back to GSP.
- Results in nearly $200 billion in health care cost savings over the next 15 years, which will lead to up to $10,000 in additional take-home pay, per worker, over 15 years.
- The average family will see an estimated savings of $40,000 on their health care premiums over 15 years.
Move to Alternative Payments:
- To control costs and improve quality of care, the law requires government agencies like MassHealth, the GIC and the Connector to use global and other alternative payments to achieve savings for taxpayers.
- Encourages alternative delivery systems across health care fields to deliver additional savings for patients, business owners and working families.
- The law also gives consumers better information about the price of procedures and health care services by requiring health insurers to provide a toll-free number and website that enables consumers to request and obtain price information.
Address Market Power:
- To monitor and address the market power and price disparities that can lead to higher costs, the law allows a Health Policy Commission to conduct a cost and market impact review of any provider organization to ensure that they can justify price variations. The law identifies triggers for when a provider or provider organization will be referred to the attorney general for investigation. An independent Center for Health Information and Analysis will conduct data collection and reporting functions.
- The law creates a Wellness Fund of $60 million administered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for competitive grants to community-based organizations, health care providers and regional planning organizations.
Enact Malpractice Reform:
- The law includes malpractice provisions proposed by Governor Patrick, requiring a “cooling-off” period before a party may initiate a suit, while making providers’ apologies inadmissible as evidence. Many studies show that an apology can prevent a lawsuit but due to the threat of litigation, providers have oftentimes remained silent.
Support Health Information Technology
- Massachusetts is already a national leader in adopting electronic health records and health IT efforts. The law complements these efforts, by advancing several health information technology programs, including the Executive Office of Health and Human Services' work with the Obama Administration to build and operate the statewide health information exchange.