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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Brandeis professor to lead health board

Stuart Altman, professor of national health policy at Brandeis University, will chair a new state board charged with setting health care spending goals and tracking providers’ progress toward reducing costs.

The 11-member Health Policy Commission board was created under the state health cost-control law that passed this summer and takes effect Monday. The measure aims to control health spending by limiting its rise to the annual growth of the state economy.

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The commission is responsible for setting that annual target, monitoring efforts to reach it, and publishing yearly recommendations on how to control costs. It will work with the new Center for Health Information and Analysis, an independent state agency. That group will be led by Áron Boros, who has been commissioner of the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy since 2011.

Altman, a health economist in Brandeis’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, has been working on the issue of health care costs for four decades.

“Dr. Altman’s experience in matters of health policy in both the public and private sectors is deep and unparalleled and will be an asset to the Commonwealth in our work to drive health care costs down,” Governor Deval Patrick said in a press release.

The governor, attorney general, and state auditor are finalizing other appointments to the commission, which will hold its first meeting Nov. 16. The commission effectively replaces the Health Care Quality and Cost Council.

Altman said he accepted the role of chairman because he believes the state has an unprecedented opportunity. Time and again, state and national efforts to rein in health care costs have failed, he said.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we can make it work here in Massachusetts and that eventually we will be the model for the rest of the country.”

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

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