Calif., Ore. And Mass. Try New Ways To Control Health Costs

In Massachusetts, House lawmakers released their proposal to curb health care spending by setting a goal.

The Wall Street Journal: Same State, New Stab At Health Care
Massachusetts is laying the groundwork for an ambitious new effort to rein in health spending that would be closely watched nationally in a state that's become a health-policy bellwether. Key state legislative leaders unveiled a bill Friday that proposes setting a target for the rate at which overall health spending should rise -- a step that would once again put the state in the forefront of efforts to remake the American health care system (Levitz and Mathews, 5/4).

Politico Pro: Massachusetts Bill Would Limit Cost Growth
Top lawmakers in the state's House of Representatives introduced legislation Friday that they claim could wring $160 billion in savings from the state's health care system over 15 years. They'd do it in part by urging providers and insurers to slow cost growth to about 3 percent a year, slower than the state's economy (Cheney, 5/4).

Boston Globe: House Targets Health Spending
Providers that charge prices deemed excessive and that they cannot prove are linked to above-average quality would pay a tax, similar to the luxury tax Major League Baseball imposes on the big-spending New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. That money also would be redistributed to financially-shaky hospitals (Kowalczyk, 5/4).

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: A New Approach To Cutting MA's Health Costs: Throw Spaghetti 
Clearly some folks will be disappointed that the plan didn't go far enough. Gov. Deval Patrick introduced legislation in February 2011 that would have allowed greater government oversight of contracts between insurers and health care providers and moved more medical groups into global payment systems that put doctors and medical groups on a budget (Zimmerman and Goldberg, 5/4).

Also in the news -

Boston Globe: What Happens When You Change An Entire Health Care System?
When it comes to what really happens to patients, doctors, and budgets when health care systems change, the evidence is shockingly sparse. It’s not easy, after all, to experiment on a health care system. Stepping into that gap is the MIT economist Amy Finkelstein, who recently won the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal, largely for her work on the economics of health care (Rothman, 5/6).

In the meantime -

Sacramento Bee: Jerry Brown Orders Task Force On Californians' Health Care
Gov. Jerry Brown ordered Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley this week to form a task force to write a 10-year plan for improving Californians' health and controlling health care costs. ... The group is to report by Dec. 15 on targets for reducing diabetes, asthma, childhood obesity and other chronic conditions (Siders, 5/4).

The Lund Report: The Applications Are In: CCOs Will Be in Every Part of Oregon
The expected but still jaw-dropping announcement that the federal government would give Oregon $1.9 billion over five years to help jump start health care reform in Oregon shadowed an equally important development: the Oregon Health Authority’s receipt of 14 applications from potential coordinated care organizations that would provide care to 90 percent of the state's Oregon Health Plan population. ... The 14 applications cover all parts of the state (Waldroupe, 5/5).

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