- Beretta leaves Maryland over gun laws, heads for Tennessee
- Neal Boortz defends Hillary Clinton for representing child rapist
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- Top federal judge uses pizza to explain complex Obamacare situation
- Obama, Biden overhaul job training programs
- Drought-plagued Californians turn to paint to keep lawns green
- ISIL now forcing Iraqi shopkeepers to veil mannequins in Mosul
- 11 parents of Nigeria’s abducted girls die
- Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia
- Turkish P.M. Erdogan won’t speak to Obama, but he’ll take calls from Biden
Mass. Senate to tackle health care payment plan
Question of the Day
BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick praised lawmakers Tuesday for tackling the high cost of medical care in Massachusetts while expressing reservations about some aspects of cost containment legislation, including a proposal to create a new state agency responsible for monitoring health care expenditures.
Patrick's remarks to a breakfast meeting of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce came hours before the state Senate was scheduled to debate a wide-ranging bill that seeks to reduce health care costs by more than $150 billion over the next 15 years. House leaders have also introduced a version of the bill, the most sweeping attempt at overhauling health care in the state since then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed a first-in-the-nation universal health care law in 2006.
Patrick said both bills have a "lot to like," but he said he was not convinced of the need for a semi-independent authority to oversee the health care market, as proposed by both chambers of the Legislature. The governor called the creation of such agencies that have less public accountability "a bad Massachusetts habit."
Patrick said he believed a new law could be effectively administered within the current framework of state government.
During a question-and-answer period with business leaders following the speech, Patrick also expressed reservations about a proposal in the House version of the bill that would charge an assessment to hospitals or other providers that charge rates more than 20 percent above the median rate in Massachusetts for similar services.
The idea, which has drawn comparisons to the so-called luxury tax assessed on high-spending Major League baseball teams, is aimed at smoothing over market disparities that Attorney General Martha Coakley and others have identified as one of the major drivers of soaring health care costs.
Patrick said he was not sure the assessment was necessary, adding that Coakley's office already had the tools to control unwarranted hospital rates.
"I am a capitalist," the governor said in his speech, assuring the gathering that included hospital and insurance company officials that he had no desire to punish the health care sector, the state's largest employer.
"But I am not a market fundamentalist," he added. "I don't believe the market always gets everything just right. And the health care industry is most certainly not a perfectly rational market."
Both the Senate and House versions of the bill would, generally, peg annual growth in health care expenditures to overall growth in the state economy. But the goals set by the two branches differ slightly. The Senate proposal would limit growth to the state's Gross State Product (GSP), while the House sets a more aggressive goal of half a percent below GSP.
Patrick said he tends to lean toward the more ambitious benchmark offered by the House.
"I think the industry can do better than GSP," he said.
Patrick unveiled his own health care cost containment bill in a February 2011 speech to the same organization. While he strongly backs the 2006 Massachusetts law, which became a blueprint for the national health care law, Patrick has focused much attention on making care more affordable.
The governor said while the industry has already taken a number of positive steps on its own to rein in costs, Massachusetts residents still spend between $13 billion and $20 billion more than necessary on health care each year. Also, he said, per capita health care spending has risen nearly three times as much as median family income in the past decade.
Patrick has encouraged providers to move away from a fee-for-service approach, which charges patients for each individual test and procedure, and toward an integrated or global payment system that stresses overall patient outcomes.
TWT Video Picks
The president could pay the full price for ignoring Congress
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- D.C. appeals panel deals big blow to Obamacare subsidies
- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps commandant, slams Obama's handling of Iraq
- 'Straight White Guy Festival' supposedly set for Ohio park
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- EDITORIAL: Obamacare in intensive care
- DEACE: How to go from civil rights icon to bigot in one quote
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq