Massachusetts lawmakers gave final approval the night of July 31 to a bill designed to save up to $200 billion in health care costs over the next 15 years.
Legislative leaders say the bill also helps guarantee the future of the state's landmark 2006 health care law and will set Massachusetts on a path to being the first state to hold the growth of health care costs close to the rate of inflation.
But not all health care stakeholders are fully happy with the bill. Tim Gens, executive vice president of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, says one element is of concern to his members.
"There are provisions of the bill such as a tax on hospitals for $60 million for one year to help fund some very good needs in the state. But since hospitals are so engaged now in trying to lower their costs, then actually imposing additional taxes, additional costs on hospitals, is a concern,” he says.
The bill encourages the creation of so-called "accountable care organizations" that take a coordinated approach to medicine while also giving residents better access to their medical records and cutting down on unnecessary testing. The legislation includes $135 million in grants to help community hospitals adopt electronic medical records systems. Gov. Deval Patrick says he looks forward to signing the bill.