For Immediate Release - February 23, 2011

GOVERNOR PATRICK VISITS SOUTH SHORE PHYSICIAN HOSPITAL ORGANIZATION TO DISCUSS ADMINISTRATION'S HEALTH CARE COST CONTAINMENT PROPOSAL

WEYMOUTH - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - Governor Deval Patrick today met with hospital administrators, doctors and other health care professionals at the South Shore Physician Hospital Organization to discuss his Administration's health care cost-containment plan to help control rising health care costs and improve patient care.

During today's meeting, the Governor heard from participants about the challenges currently facing hospital networks and individual providers across the Commonwealth, and discussed the ways in which his comprehensive health care payment and delivery reform legislation aims to tackle many of those challenges by getting at the root causes of skyrocketing health care costs.

"Massachusetts leads the nation in health care coverage with over 98 percent of the Commonwealth's residents insured," said Governor Patrick. "We must now work to crack the code on cost-containment to ensure that the people of Massachusetts continue to receive world-class, affordable care."

The Governor's bill, "An Act Improving the Quality of Health Care and Controlling Costs by Reforming Health Systems and Payments," establishes a structure and process to facilitate significant reforms to the Commonwealth's health care payment and service delivery systems over the next three years.

The legislation, filed last week, encourages the growth of "integrated care organizations," (ICOs) comprised of groups of providers that work together to achieve improved health outcomes for patients at lower costs; provides benchmarks, standards and guidance for the transition to integrated care and global payments; and allows the Division of Insurance (DOI) to consider more criteria when making the decision to either approve or reject rate increase requests from both carriers and providers.

Massachusetts leads the nation in the percentage of residents with health insurance, with more than 98 percent of people covered. Since passage of health care reform legislation in 2006, the rate of insurance coverage has increased for all income levels and among all racial and ethnic groups. As of June 2010, more than 400,000 people in Massachusetts had insurance that had previously been uninsured. The Commonwealth has achieved near universal coverage for children, with 99.8 percent insured, including 20,000 more children enrolled in MassHealth during the past year alone.

While Massachusetts has shown national leadership in expanding access to health care, costs that are higher than the national average threaten the extraordinary progress we have made in ensuring access. The rate of increase in health care costs has outpaced growth in the economy and threatens the financial health of individuals and businesses. Left unchecked, per capita health care spending in Massachusetts would continue to outpace the annual rise in the GDP, and by 2020 total health care spending would reach $123 billion.

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