Senator Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge), co-chair of the Health Care Financing Committee, and his House counterpart Steven Walsh (D-Lynn) have their sights set at improving the Massachusetts health care system by incentivizing high quality health care and eliminating duplicative procedures. Senator Moore said he hopes to strike a deal with House
Chair Walsh before next month, but he said that in the absence of an agreement, the Senate would likely advance a bill on its own.
Governor Deval Patrick has made no secret that he wants lawmakers to send him a health care system reform bill quickly, but the Legislature has reviewed his bill for a year, warning that hasty action could destabilize an industry that ranks as Massachusetts’ top employer and processes tens of billions of dollars a year.
So far, the discussions have embraced a system that essentially puts groups of health care providers on a patient-by-patient budget and provide incentives for doctors and hospitals to work within that budget. Supporters of the so-called global payment system said it would emphasize healthy outcomes for patients and diminish the “fee-for-service” system in which providers are reimbursed for every service they provide, rather than keeping patients healthy, reducing errors and minimizing unnecessary hospitalizations. Proponents of the bill have suggested lawmakers must also tackle major disparities in the prices charged by providers around the state for similar services.
Moore said that uncertainty over the fate of national health reform, which could be decided by the 2012 presidential and Congressional elections, has had limited impact on efforts to craft a payment reform bill.