For Immediate Release - August 11, 2008

Governor Patrick Signs Bill Enhancing Quality, Cost-Effectiveness And Transparency Of Health Care

Senate President, Speaker Laud Governor's Support to Help Contain Health Care Costs

BOSTON- Sunday, August 10, 2008 - Governor Deval Patrick has signed into law a bill that will help contain the skyrocketing costs of health care, while ensuring transparency and continued quality of care for all Massachusetts residents.

"I applaud the many important initiatives that this legislation enacts to enhance the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care in the Commonwealth," said Governor Patrick.

Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi commended Governor Patrick for supporting the bill.

"In order for health care reform to be successful, it is imperative that we increase access and quality, while decreasing the cost of care. This legislation through incentives for medical and nursing students, the adoption of uniform billing and electronic health records and increasing transparency for consumers, achieves those goals," said Senate President Therese Murray. "Massachusetts is known around the world for cutting-edge, top notch health care and medical research. We are leading the way, and this legislation allows us to continue that leadership, while providing the best health care possible for the people of the Commonwealth. I want to thank Senator Moore for his hard work on this legislation, as well as Governor Patrick and Speaker DiMasi for their dedication to health care reform."

"The ongoing success of our historic health care reform depends on our ability to continue to cut costs in the health care system while we increase quality and the number of insured," said House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi. "From increased transparency in rate-setting to expanded use of electronic records and a tough new code of conduct for gift-giving, this law charts a bold course to cut costs. This is also a true compromise between the House and Senate and I commend Governor Patrick for joining us to take this bold step to help reduce costs in our health care system."

An Act to Promote Cost Containment, Transparency and Efficiency in the Delivery of Quality Health Care includes many targeted measures intended to improve aspects of the health care system that affect quality of care and costs. Several cost-containing initiatives include:

  • The development of quality improvement and cost containment goals and performance benchmarks
  • The promotion of electronic health records systems
  • The implementation of measures to increase the availability and accessibility of primary care and to improve the quality of chronic care
  • The dissemination of health care quality and cost data to consumers, providers and insurers.

The legislation also includes a section requiring pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing companies to report to the state Department of Public Health any payment or gift of more than $50 made to a healthcare professional. Those gifts would be publicly reported on the state's Web site.

"This measure will set a marketing code of conduct to help ensure health care providers make choices about prescription drugs and medical devices for their patients based on therapeutic benefits and cost-effectiveness," said Governor Patrick. "I am confident the Department of Public Health, pursuant to its regulatory authority, will safeguard the confidentiality of companies' trade secrets and proprietary information and protect against roadblocks to medical research or the education of health care providers."

"This legislation is at least as significant as earlier health care reform efforts, and it creates a broader range of improvements to health care," said Senator Richard T. Moore, Senate Chair of the Health Care Financing Committee. "I commend the Governor for his courage and leadership to make this law a reality."

"I congratulate the Governor for his action today," said Representative Pat Walrath (D-Stow), House Chair of the Health Care Financing Committee. "This legislation lays a firm foundation for the serious kind of cost containment that is necessary if we are to realize the goals of health reform, and I look forward to a continued partnership with the administration as we implement the law."

"Biased marketing and financial inducements are destructive to the sacred doctor-patient relationship. Evidence based academic detailing enhances this relationship. Cost controls, disclosure and transparency are imperative as we demand universal access to quality healthcare. I commend the Governor for standing firmly on the side of the patient and taxpayer," said Senator Mark Montigny, author of the gift ban legislation and a former chair of the Health Care Committee.