The Massachusetts legislature is voting today on "An Act improving the quality of health care and reducing costs through increased transparency, efficiency and innovation" reported out of conference committee at the eleventh hour, last night. (Update: The law was passed by both houses and sent to the Governor for signature this evening.) The headlines include:
1. The health care cost growth rate may not exceed growth of the "gross state product" (GSP) for five years, and must be between the GSP and .5% below the GSP for the next five.
3. Transparency and accountability for cost and quality.
4. Investment in wellness and in community hospitals.
5. Med-mal reform including a 6-month coooling off period and inadmissibility of medical apologies in court proceedings.
The full text of the bill, and a summary, are set forth below. It's been a long haul, and this Part III of Massachsuetts health reform was kicked off by Governor Deval Patrick almost 18 months ago.
A return to central health planning? Not quite, but certainly more heavily regulated than things are at the moment. Is that a bad thing? Well, consider how the free-market approach has been working out: overall, we've seen a high-cost, low-quality experience (relatively speaking) that could use some help. Is this new law the panacea we need? Too soon to tell. But we surely cannot stick with the status quo.