Massachusetts governor unveils healthcare legislation to cut costs, boost care access for patients

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker introduced extensive healthcare legislation Oct. 18 that would address surprise medical bills, limit when hospitals can charge a facility fee at a hospital outpatient department, and require hospitals and insurers to increase spending on behavioral health and primary care, according to The Boston Globe.

The governor's administration said in a news release that the proposed legislation aims to improve patient outcomes, increase care access and reduce healthcare costs, including out-of-pocket costs.

A recent report by the Center for Health Information and Analysis found out-of-pocket costs and premiums for fully-insured plans grew 6.1 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively, between 2016 and 2018. The center said this is about twice the rate of inflation and wages.

To reduce out-of-pocket costs, the proposed legislation bans surprise medical bills for out-of-network emergency and unplanned services rendered at an in-network facility, according to the governor's administration. It would also limit when a hospital can charge a facility fee at a hospital outpatient department, with a focus on how close a hospital clinic is to the hospital's main campus.

The governor's office said the proposed legislation also requires that pharmacies provide notification to people about their lowest out-of-pocket cost options for prescription drugs at their prescription pick-up time.

Other parts of the proposed legislation, according to the governor's office, include requiring hospitals and insurers to increase spending on behavioral health and primary care by 30 percent over three years as well as penalizing drug manufacturers that increase the cost of medicines more than the consumer price index plus two percent. 

Read more about the proposed legislation here.

 

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