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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

As legislative debate begins, Partners HealthCare ad campaign touts its cost-cutting

The debate over the next stage of the state’s health care overhaul is in full swing now, reflected on the pages of the Boston Globe in more ways than one.

Liz Kowalczyk wrote Friday about a House proposal to cut the growth rate of health care costs in Massachusetts by about half to be closer to the rise in gross state product, a measure of economic activity. Today, in the Globe’s Metro section, Partners HealthCare ran a full-page advertisement touting its efforts to control costs.

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Partners, which owns Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is often pointed to as a high-cost system with tremendous power to negotiate with health insurers.

“We’re tackling health care’s toughest challenges. Like health care costs,” the ad reads, below a portrait of Dr. Sunu Yeh, who has helped lead a pilot program at Mass. General to change how health care is paid for, so that doctors are rewarded for keeping people healthy rather than ordering more tests and treatments.

The ad is one in a series that were launched last month, which also highlight the system’s research and health care quality efforts, said Partners spokesman Rich Copp. Another ad, with the same message, ran last week across two pages, with the picture and story of Dr. Dean Xerras, also involved in the development of the Partners Pioneer accountable care organization.

“We want to have a voice,” Copp said. “There’s a very intense and a very public dialogue on health care costs in the state right now. Partners has a good story to tell when it comes to taking on issues like affordabilty.”

The advertisement says that the hospital system has taken steps to save consumers $345 million over the next four years. That is what was saved when Partners renegotiated contracts with two insurers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Tufts Health Plan, Copp said. It also directs readers to the Connect with Partners website, where the hospital system has posted items about research and philanthropy and some commentary about state policy. As of this afternoon, there was no mention there about the House plan released last week.

“We need to take a close look at the details,” Copp said. “We’re hopeful that the House proposal will work to build off some of the innovations in the marketplace already underway.”

Partners is not the only group with a dog in the fight lauding its own efforts to address costs. Children’s Hospital Boston has a website on the topic. So does Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. And it seems likely we’ll see more such messages in the weeks to come.

Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at cconaboy@boston.com. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.
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