Today, the Commonwealth’s Provider Price Variation Commission will assemble for the last time. The group has made tremendous progress examining many important issues in Massachusetts health care and has done an important job brining disparate points of view together toward a shared goal of strengthening our delivery system. In particular, Chairmen Jeffery Sanchez and James Welch deserve a great deal of credit for keeping the process moving forward while avoiding the type of contentious debate that can often drag a process like this down.
As the group meets this afternoon here are three key takeaways to consider:
We Must Find Solutions for the Lowest Paid Hospitals – It is clear that we must find a mechanism to adequately reimburse the lowest paid hospitals in the state. As we have stated before, this cannot be accomplished through commercial payments alone. Medicaid payments have the larger impact on distressed hospitals. Together, we must find a broad-based funding mechanism, which is not punitive, to achieve this.
There is Consensus on some Market-based solutions – Eliminating “surprise” billing and other out-of-network issues can give new strength to tiered and limited network products. These concepts earned consensus during this months-long process. These steps, combined with meaningful transparency and consumer incentives can help the market build on recent successes in Massachusetts cost control. We should act on this now.
Do No Harm – Most everyone on the Special Commission agrees – Massachusetts has a great health care system. No one wants to take steps to damage the health care delivery system that has made Massachusetts one of the best places in the nation to live. Blunt instruments like government rate controls or intervention in private negotiations could cause unknown harm to our patient care delivery system, our scientific research initiative, and the positive economic impact which that research yields. For these reasons, consensus never formed around a blunt regulatory approach.
However, the most important takeaway is a reminder of a lesson we learned in 2006. We must work on these things together. In 2006, health care leaders, insurance executives, elected officials, advocacy groups and the business community worked in partnership to create Chapter 58 and put Massachusetts ahead of the nation. It is as clear as ever, that success will require that same level of partnership in 2017