Massachusetts Could Provide Model To Pay For Reform

USA Today reports that three years after mandating coverage for all, Massachusetts is emerging as national model.

Massachusetts is wrangling with the idea of changing how doctors and hospitals are paid to help finance its soaring health costs. The way they want to do so is by rewarding results.

"As Washington wrestles with the idea of overhauling the nation's health care system, the Bay State offers an object lesson in how to do it in stages. It's an approach favored by state officials but rejected by the Obama administration, which is intent on addressing coverage, cost and quality all at once. Massachusetts dealt with coverage first: just 2.6% of state residents remain uninsured, compared with more than 15% nationally. That's due in part to the 2006 law, which said most residents must get insurance, most employers must help provide it, and most taxpayers must help pay for it. "Dealing with cost and quality has proved trickier. Higher health care costs fueled a combined $9 billion gap in the state's 2009 and 2010 budgets that had to be closed last month, leaving less for education, public safety, the environment and other services."

Nationally, the president "seeks to extend insurance to up to 46 million people without it. At the same time, he wants to slow the growth of Medicare and Medicaid, now projected to rise from 5% of the nation's economy to more than 17% by 2080." Some lessons to learn from Massachusetts, USA Today reports: Sell it to the public, don't alienate interest groups and prepare for years of trial and error (Wolf, 7/23).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.