Curb costs or get fined, state tells Mass General Brigham

Boston-based Mass General Brigham must develop a performance improvement plan to reduce costs after the state's healthcare watchdog determined that the health system pushed healthcare spending above acceptable levels throughout the last few years, according to a press release emailed to Becker's on Jan. 25. 

The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission found that Mass General Brigham had substantially higher than average commercial spending from 2014 to 2019. In total, the health system had $293 million in total spending across those years, which was more than any other provider. The commission said this high level of spending that stems from the system's expensive care has hurt the state's ability to control healthcare costs and meet the state's affordability benchmarks.

Mass General Brigham has 45 days to file a proposed performance improvement plan to the commission or request a deadline extension. The plan must contain specific cost-reducing steps, savings goals, process and outcome metrics, and a timeline.

Failure to comply comes with a $500,000 fine, according to the commission's website

This is the first time the commission has required a health system to submit a plan to lower costs since it started reviewing market transactions six years ago. 

"A performance improvement plan will give MBG the opportunity to directly address its spending trends in a publicly accountable way, and so doing help advance affordability for the residents of the commonwealth," David Seltz, executive director of the Health Policy Commission, told The Boston Globe

Mass General Brigham told the Globe that the commission didn't take into account the acuity of its patients. 

"The HPC was selective in its use of [data] that ignore the role of our academic health centers in treating the sickest and most complex patients in the Commonwealth," Mass General Brigham said. "The HPC's refusal to acknowledge the acuity of our patients in its judgement of healthcare spending is short-sighted and unfair, especially to patients."

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