Free Our Data and Improve Public Health!

Paul F. Levy and W. David Stephenson

Published in the current issue of the Boston Business Journal

Massachusetts has a stunning opportunity to break open many of the mysteries surrounding delivery of health care. Doing so will help resolve important public policy issues. It will help contain rising health care expenses. And, it will even help save lives and improve the public health.

Doing this requires no new state law. The law is already on the books. It requires no addition to the state budget. The costs have already been incurred.
What could cause so dramatic an impact? Liberating data that is already in the hands of the state government.

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The Massachusetts Health Reform “Disaster”

Joe Paduda

Posted 11/19/11 on Managed Care Matters

To hear the current GOP presidential candidates describe it, former Gov. Mitt Romney’s support for the 2006 Massachusetts health care reform initiative was the worst thing since the Spanish Flu.

We can chalk a lot of the hyperbole up to campaigning, but the critics raise some good points.

First, costs have gone up. That’s not surprising as more people are covered, many of whom didn’t have coverage before and therefore likely had medical issues that, once they were insured, they addressed. Moreover, Mass’ per-capita health care costs have been higher than the national average for a long time – this is a structural issue as much – if not more – than a result of reform.

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The Massachusetts Experiment Analyzed: Are We Ready For Global Payment?

David Harlow

First published 6/24/11 on Health Blawg

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley released her office’s second annual report, An Examination of Health Care Cost Trends and Drivers (PDF; see also press release), which contains a wealth of critical data analysis — and also highlights how little we know about certain things — providing some important context for the discussion of the proposed Part III of Massachusetts health reform, a bill filed by Governor Patrick which would create all-payor ACOs and a system of global payments.

At this late date, few would argue against a move a way from fee-for-service reimbursement for health care, or adding quality metrics to the mix, and tying financial rewards to providers to their performance measured against these metrics.  (Consider the Massachusetts Blue Cross Blue Shield ACQ (alternative quality contract) experience.)  The AG’s report, however, highlights the wide disparities in payments to providers based on negotiating strength, rather than quality or cost of care (as noted in last year’s AG report; check out the 2009 special commission report, too).

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