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Massachusetts Enacts Legislation Promoting Access to Quality and Affordable Care, Telehealth

February 8, 2021

On January 1, 2021, Governor Charlie Baker signed an omnibus healthcare law entitled “An Act promoting a resilient health care system that puts patients first,” which is aimed at addressing pressing healthcare issues in Massachusetts, many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The act addresses a wide variety of healthcare issues, such as surprise billing, advanced practitioner scope of practice, telehealth, mental health parity and healthcare accessibility. Governor Baker initially proposed several of these measures in late 2019 in “An Act to improve health care by investing in value.” While the January 2021 act incorporates many of the core concepts from the 2019 proposal, in some cases these concepts were substantially modified and new provisions (specifically, those related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic) were introduced into the final version of the act. Key features of the act are summarized below.

Read more here.

Adding Another '800-Pound Gorilla' To Mass. Hospital Market Will Mean Higher Prices

WBUR 90.9 | Sam Richardson | Nov. 30, 2018

The Massachusetts hospital market is currently dominated by an 800-pound gorilla.

Partners HealthCare is responsible for more than 27 percent of all acute hospital stays in the state, with prices about 30 percent higher than the state average and quality that is often not any better than at other hospitals.

The merger of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health, approved by the attorney general’s office on Thursday, will add another 800-pound gorilla. Together, the new entity, BILH, and Partners will be responsible for over half of all acute hospital stays statewide.

Attorney General Maura Healey extracted short-term concessions from BILH in terms of price increases and independent monitoring, and longer-term concessions in terms of access for MassHealth patients and support of safety-net providers.

However, as a health economist, I believe that allowing this level of concentration in Massachusetts hospital markets is a mistake in the long run.

After the seven-year term of pricing concessions expires, we should expect large increases in hospital prices and health care spending, with no overall improvement in quality of care.

Read more here.

Massachusetts residents spent $80 million on low-value health care, report finds | MASS LIVE

Hospital merger could increase statewide costs by $250 million per year, says watchdog group | mass live

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