Lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a 350-page health care cost-control bill Tuesday afternoon, a compromise between House and Senate leaders that sets spending targets for hospitals and doctors in the state and penalizes those that exceed them.
Governor Deval Patrick said he would sign the bill. “This is more than a good bill; this is a great bill,” he told reporters after visiting a Roxbury organization that seeks to reduce youth violence. “This is a commonwealth that has shown the nation how to extend coverage to everybody and to do it in a hybrid system with an emphasis on private-sector insurance with subsidies for those who can’t afford it. And now we’re going to crack the code on cost control.”
He said he does not believe the legislation will lead to layoffs in the health care sector or hospital closures. “There are going to be changes,” Patrick said. “But if those changes mean we get lower-cost and higher-quality care because care is being delivered in different settings -- in homes, for example, in neighborhoods, in communities, rather than in hospitals -- then I think that’s something we all ought to strive for and will strive for.”
The plan allows health spending to grow no faster than the state economy overall through 2017. For the five years after that, spending would slow further, to half a percentage point below the growth of the state’s economy, although leaders would have the power under certain circumstances to soften that target.
Supporters believe the bill will help moderate increases in insurance premiums for consumers and businesses. While the measure does not spell out specific cuts, health providers are expected to expand efforts already underway to slow the proliferation of some medical procedures, better coordinate care to keep patients healthier and out of the hospital, and steer patients to lower-cost caregivers.
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week