Massachusetts businesses unite to cut healthcare costs: 6 things to know

A group of Massachusetts employers have formed a coalition with the goal of reducing healthcare costs by $100 million over two years, according to a WBUR report.

Here are six things to know about the coalition:

1. It includes at least 20 groups representing retailers, manufacturers, restaurants and bankers and is open to more employer members.

2. Coalition representatives said that they plan to work on the campaign with strategic partners, such as the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians and the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, as well as other healthcare stakeholders.

3. The campaign will initially focus on the emergency department. Specifically, the coalition seeks to reduce avoidable ED use by 20 percent to decrease healthcare costs by more than $100 million over the next two years.

4. The coalition writes: "Avoidable ED use is a particularly strong area for coordinated action. The cost of an ED visit can be five times more expensive than the cost of care provided in a primary care or urgent care setting. The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission conservatively estimates that, across the state, the annual cost is $300 million to $350 million on avoidable ED visits for commercially insured members alone. These visits also contribute to spending in the state's Medicaid program, and reducing avoidable ED use is a key goal of MassHealth's new Accountable Care Organization program."

5. The coalition's efforts to achieve its goal will focus on employee engagement, data and measurement, multisector collaboration and policy advocacy. Examples of efforts include providing employees with information to help them receive the best and most appropriate care for particular medical issues, as well as trying to enhance employer data-sharing so all employers get routine information about avoidable ED use among their employees.

6. MACEP said it, too, seeks to cut healthcare costs in Massachusetts but is concerned that reducing ED revenues could have a negative affect for patients who need care in emergency rooms, reports WBUR.

MACEP's president, Scott Weiner, MD, said in the report: "Reducing avoidable visits is a lot harder than it sounds. If it could be done so readily it would have been done. Copays are already higher for ED visits, and patients still come, so we have to figure out what need isn't being met."

Read WBUR's full report here.

 

 

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