Success Of Massachusetts Health Insurance Law Depends On State's Ability To Rein In Health Care Costs

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Massachusetts health officials have said that containing healthspending increases is key to the success of the state's healthinsurance law, the AP/BostonGlobe reports. According to Jon Kingsdale, executivedirector of the CommonwealthHealth Insurance Connector Authority, the "sustainability"of Massachusetts' health insurance law depends on the state's"ability to restrain or constrain or moderate the increase incosts," which will "take a huge concerted effort by allplayers in the health care area."

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Penalties intended toencourage residents to obtain health coverage are only part of thestate's "multipronged attempt to cut health care costs to ensurethe viability of the law," according to the AP/Globe.Massachusetts hospitals are pursuing a series of initiatives toreduce costs, including streamlining administrative functions andbringing on more qualified health care workers, especially nurses,according to Lynn Nicholas, president and CEO of the MassachusettsHospital Association. Hospitals also are examining treatment ofchronic diseases to determine ways to reduce costs and improve care.In addition, insurers "say they are committed to reducingcosts," the AP/Globe reports.

Providersshould be looking to cut costs and reduce spending by institutingsafeguards to reduce medical errors that could shorten the length ofhospital stays and reduce the number of readmissions, Kingsdale said.He also recommended reducing reliance on costly medical tests whenthey are of questionable benefit.

Kingsdale said his goal isto limit annual health cost increases to about 5%, compared withrecent double-digit increases. He also said that the state must standfirm on requirements that people obtain health coverage if they canafford it. Nicholas agreed, saying, "One of the biggestpressures is, will we have the ability to stick to our guns onpersonal responsibility." Nicholas added, "If we get softon that issue, everything could go down" (LeBlanc, AP/BostonGlobe, 1/6).

Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report ispublished for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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