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MA Senate Gets Ready for Payment Reform

Posted by John McDonough  April 26, 2012 10:24 PM

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Apropos the previous post on the repeated delays in legislative consideration of Governor Patrick's health care cost control proposals, here is some smart reporting from the State House News Service:

Fourteen months after Gov. Deval Patrick filed a proposal on the issue, Senate President Therese Murray said Wednesday she expects the Senate to take action in mid-May on a bill making major changes to the way health care is delivered and paid for in Massachusetts.

"Probably the week before budget," Murray told the News Service, referencing the fact that the Senate intends to consider its annual budget plan the week before Memorial Day.

The bill, with multi-billion-dollar implications for an industry that also ranks as Massachusetts largest employer, has been sitting idle in the Legislature's Health Care Financing Committee since Patrick filed it in February 2011. On Wednesday, the committee decided to discharge Patrick's bill unchanged and send it to the Senate budget committee, a step that signals the bill is nearing consideration in the full Senate.

Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo have pledged to act on a health care payment reform proposal this spring, but have offered no concrete timetable, even as the Legislature nears its last three months of formal business for the session.

The release of the governor's bill without changes suggests that the House and Senate were unable to forge agreement on a unified, pre-negotiated proposal, one that could help speed consideration and limit disagreement as lawmakers head toward their five-month campaign and holiday season recess. ...

Murray and DeLeo have both signaled they intend to set long-term goals for health care cost increase, with DeLeo saying he believes limiting health care cost growth to the level of "gross state product" is achievable.
In this case, any news is good news.  Still, the fact that the Health Care Financing Committee chose to discharge the legislation to the Senate without making its own report is an indication of significant differences between the House and Senate leadership on the matter.  That could be problematic because of the short amount of time left until formal legislative business ends on July 31st.  Had the Committee been able to settle on a common framework, prospects for passage would be far more favorable. 

Still, any news is good news -- in this case.  The nation is watching -- let's not let them down.
This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

John E. McDonough is a professor of practice at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the author of the book “Inside National Health Reform”, published in 2011 by More »

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