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September 2008

Massachusetts Governor Signs Bill Focused on Cost Containment, Transparency and Efficiency

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill (S. 2863) on August 10 intended to promote cost containment, transparency and efficiency in the delivery of quality health care.

The bill includes measures that promote reform and efficiency in the health care system, including:

  • Creating a Special Commission on Health Payment Reform to investigate restructuring the current payment system to provide incentives for efficient and effective care.
  • Authorizing MassHealth to establish a “Medical Home” demonstration program to promote coordinated, comprehensive patient care and strengthen the role of primary care providers.
  • Establishing a Pharmacy Academic Detailing Program to educate providers on the use of lower cost brand names and generic drugs in place of expensive brand name drugs, where therapeutically appropriate.

To improve access to health care services the bill would:

  • Create a new Health Care Workforce Center within the Department of Public Health to improve access to health care services in the Commonwealth, with a particular focus on primary care.
  • Institute a new loan forgiveness program for doctors and nurses who commit to practicing certain specialties in medically underserved areas.
  • Require health insurers to recognize and reimburse nurse practitioners as primary care providers.

Measures to enhance quality and transparency of health care costs include:

  • Mandated reporting of “serious reportable events”, adverse drug events and hospital-acquired infections.
  • Regulation of marketing practices to health care professionals from the pharmaceutical and medical device industry based on industry-accepted code of conduct.

And finally, the bill encourages adoption of health information technology by:

  • Setting a goal of statewide adoption of electronic health records by the year 2015 to improve patient safety and lower costs.
  • Dedicating $25 million to the new Massachusetts e-Health Institute to facilitate the financing and implementation of a statewide, compatible system of electronic health records.[1]