It was a great honor to work on and be a part of the team in presenting the 160 page reform bill that addresses some of the most pressing concerns in our healthcare system today – price variation, unnecessary cost growth, consumer engagement, and greater transparency. The bill also harnesses technology and innovation to improve the delivery of care. The reforms were engrossed by the House in a 117-32 vote.
The reforms in this bill will help us deliver more sustainable methods of improving health care in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts approach to health reform is not about squeezing out efficiencies and cutting cost, rather it 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.
We continue to be a leader in health care and public health areas and this bill will indeed move us further along towards increased accessibility, higher quality, and more affordable health care for all.
The bill includes policies that will help stabilize the finances of community hospitals and health centers to help these critical providers of care to transition to the new models of integrated, value-based care. It contains new requirements for consumer engagement and greater transparency on health care costs and insurance plans designs. It will assist patients and employers in navigating their coverage options and shopping for care based on both quality and cost.
Under the legislation, consumers will also be protected from surprise bills, and notice provisions for out of network billing and facility fees will be strengthened. The transparency provisions also extend to the pharmaceutical industry, MassHealth, and pharmacy benefit managers.
The Act also advances innovation and harnesses technology by embracing telemedicine, reinforcing mobile integrated health, and expanding the mission of the Massachusetts e-Health Institute to accelerate the adoption of digital health.
We recapitalize the Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund and expand its reach by dedicating a percentage of the grants to support regional projects in communities that were not able to access funds under the first program. It includes a number of provisions to expand access to healthcare providers and insures equitable access to healthcare resources.
And finally, the Act establishes some commissions and a task force to look at the financial stability of nursing homes, examine administrative costs in the healthcare system, and to look at existing special healthcare funds to evaluate them for effectiveness and efficiency.