Interested in efforts to control health costs? Pay attention to Massachusetts

The state has set benchmarks for health care costs — with a watchdog in the form of the state Health Policy Commission.  Here’s yesterday’s news.

The state attorney general’s office and the Department of Public Health on Thursday signaled that they are drafting conditions for the biggest health care merger proposed in Massachusetts in decades, after a state watchdog agency stood firm behind projections that the deal could sharply raise costs for consumers.

The comments from the three public agencies indicated that nearly two years after it was first proposed, a merger between Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health may be nearing final approval — but with guardrails…

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Slide from a Tufts researcher’s Dec. 2017 presentation to the California General Assembly

The Health Policy Commission is charged with studying hospital mergers but cannot block them. It can refer its findings to other officials with greater regulatory authority.

“The question is: Does the merger serve the Commonwealth? The answer is no — not yet,” said Dr. Donald Berwick, a member of the commission, said at a public meeting Thursday.

“Costs are going to go up. They’re going to go up substantially,” he said. “We need a form of restraint.”

Click here for a 2016 interview with chair Stuart Altman. 

Watch yesterday’s meeting, which was live streamed and posted to You Tube

 

 

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