Billions of dollars wasted in Massachusetts each year on unneeded medical care, says policy group

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For the first time, state officials have estimated just how many health care dollars may be squandered in Massachusetts. It could be as much as $27 billion a year.

Between 21 and 39 percent of medical expenditures in the state may be wasteful, according to the state’s newly formed Health Policy Commission. That added up to $14.7 billion to $26.9 billion in 2012. One large chunk of that goes toward readmitting hospital patients who could have stayed home if their discharge planning had been better, such as having proper instructions for taking medication.

Lynn Nicholas, president of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, said some of the report’s assertions are misleading. Since 2009, medical cost growth has slowed more in Massachusetts than nationally, she said.

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