- Associated Press - Sunday, January 26, 2020

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts lawmakers are planning to hold a public hearing this week for a sweeping bill filed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker that would overhaul the state’s health care system.

Baker said the bill would cut down the hidden costs that currently blindside consumers while requiring walk-in clinics to treat low-income patients on Medicaid.

He said the bill would also hold drug companies accountable for excessive prices and unjustified price increases, and support distressed community hospitals and community health centers.

The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at the Massachusetts Statehouse.

Baker said the legislation would “address the challenges associated with supporting an aging population, individuals with a chronic illness, or those in need of behavioral health services,” when he unveiled it in October.

The bill would outlaw “surprise” bills for emergency room care and rein in certain hospital fees.

Baker has cited the example of an individual who gets an unexpected bill after going to the emergency room for a broken arm and getting an X-ray by a radiologist who turns out to be out of the patient’s insurance network.

Drug companies would be penalized for raising prices on medications by more than 2% a year over any cost adjustments for inflation.

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