State Highlights: Mass. Health Care System Eyes New Expansion

A selection of health policy stories from Massachusetts and California.

The Boston Globe: Partners Promises A New Model For Care
Facing challenges in their home state, top executives of Boston-based Partners HealthCare System told a national audience of investors Monday that they will create a bold “new medical model” by integrating hospitals and their medical services with insurance products and by drawing patients from across the country. Speaking at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Partners’ chief executive, Gary L. Gottlieb, said his organization, which owns Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals in Boston, plans to improve medical care and lower costs by further expanding its network of community hospitals and primary care physicians in Eastern Massachusetts (Weisman, 1/14).

California Healthline: In State Budget, Inaction Can Be Action
The California Budget Project's appraisal of the governor's 2014 proposed budget finds the plan lacking in addressing several health care issues. In his projections for state revenue and spending in the coming year, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said the outlook was financially brighter but many health care budget cuts made in previous years were not addressed. According to Chris Hoene, executive director of the California Budget Project, a not-for-profit nonpartisan budget analysis organization based in Sacramento, that just doesn't make good fiscal sense. … A 10 percent Medi-Cal rate cut was passed two years ago as an emergency budget reduction when the state faced a tsunami of red ink. Now that the fiscal waters have calmed, Hoene said, it's important to make sure the state is ready for this year's Medi-Cal expansion, when one million to two million Californians will join the system and will need providers to care for them (Gorn, 1/13).

California Healthline: New Stewardship Responsibilities, Costs Probed For Drug, Needle Manufacturers
The question of what to do with toxic waste from the health care industry -- medications, used needles and other detritus -- is generating proposals for new county and state regulations in California, some of which place the burden on drug makers and needle manufacturers. Two bills in the California Legislature seek statewide regulations on the proper disposal of unused drugs and disposable needles, syringes and lancets -- collectively known as "medical sharps” (Lauer, 1/13).

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