Yesterday, the state's Center for Health Information Analysis (CHIA) released a report measuring growth of health care spending in Massachusetts. The report contained some very positive news, indicating that health spending in Massachusetts rose about 2.8%—coming in lower than the benchmark state regulators established as part of Chapter 224. 

The state reported moderate growth in medical expenditures at Partners HealthCare, and in some instances a reduction in growth (see chart below).  But there is more work to do, and Partners is committed to working with state regulators, insurers and others to build upon the good news coming out of yesterday's report.

The cost growth benchmark in Massachusetts has been a big part of the health care narrative here in Massachusetts and has been a target that hospitals and physicians in Massachusetts have successfully met. However, drug costs and Medicaid expenditures will continue to present challenges.

As Governor Charlie Baker testified to the US Senate last week, "In 2013, Massachusetts established a health care cost growth benchmark; originally set at 3.6 percent, it was recently lowered to 3.1 percent. Although the growth in hospital and physician spending has been near or below the benchmark, drug spending is a major driver of health costs, far exceeding the state’s benchmark, growing at 8 percent last year.”

As WBUR reported, other state leaders highlighted the report as good news for Massachusetts

"Not only are we keeping health care spending under our benchmark, we are doing things that are better than the rest of the country."

Stuart Altman, Chair of the Health Policy Commission

"Over the last several years, Massachusetts growth rates are below the national average," Stuart Altman, Chair of the Health Policy Commission said. "If that continues, that is the most telling statistic. Not only are we keeping health care spending under our benchmark, we are doing things that are better than the rest of the country."

"Overall health care spending grew at a slower rate than in recent years," said Ray Campbell, director of the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), the agency that calculates this long-awaited number. "We have seen demonstrable progress on some of the key health care indicators that Massachusetts tracks."