MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE APPROVES HEALTH CARE CHANGES

By Bob Katzen

House 117-32, approved a complicated 130-page bill imposing assessments of $247.5 million on health insurers and $90 million on the largest hospitals. The funds would be used for grants to community hospitals. The measure also hikes fees for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who pay the state to obtain their state license. Other provisions create new requirements for transparency in health plan network and benefit design and costs; protect consumers from surprise bills; require disclosures related to out of network billing and facility fees; and establish standards for telemedicine, that allows doctors and patients to communicate remotely rather than at the doctor’s office.

“Massachusetts continues to lead the way in healthcare and this bill takes significant steps at addressing some of the most pressing concerns in our health care system today – price variation, unnecessary cost growth, consumer engagement, and greater transparency,” said Rep. Jeffrey Roy (D-Franklin). “It also harnesses technology and innovation to improve the delivery of care and is ultimately shaped around enhancing the experience for patients. At its heart, this bill, in conjunction with our prior legislative efforts, is transforming how we seek to pay for care to promote cost-effective, value-driven services in a way that makes the healthcare system more accessible and effective for all of us.”

“I voted against the bill because it does little in the way of cost containment and does not include any MassHealth reforms offered by Gov. Baker to bring state Medicaid spending under control,” said GOP House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading.) “Instead, it imposes hundreds of millions of dollars in new assessments on larger hospitals, specialty clinics, and insurers over the next three years, while increasing fees for thousands of licensed medical professionals across the state.”

The Senate has approved a different version of the bill and a conference committee will try to work out a compromise version.

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