Governor Sets Requirements for Health Care Bill

By Sarah Birnbaum

May 15, 2012
BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick weighed in Tuesday for the first time since the state House and Senate unveiled competing versions of bills to rein in health care spending.
In a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Patrick supported the idea of government setting benchmarks for overall state health care spending. He appeared to endorse the more aggressive targets in the House’s version of the bill, which requires health care spending to grow at a slightly lower rate than the gross state product (GSP).
"I think the industry can do better than GSP," he said. "I certainly could not imagine accepting GSP plus anything, for three reasons: the industry has already shown us they can do better than that, they have shown us they can do so without jeopardizing the quality of care and any goal that foresees increases above GSP just postpones the day when health care is all we can afford to buy."
He added, "The goal to the overall growth of the state's economy makes sense to me, since all we're trying to do is make sure health care costs don't outgrow everything else."
The Senate was set to debate its version of the health cost containment bill Tuesday afternoon; the House plans to debate its version in June. The two bills must be merged before it can go to Patrick’s desk.
Patrick indicated that a compromise solution would be in order, saying, "While I don't agree with everything in either bill, there is a lot to like in each of them." He set four key conditions for a health care bill: a cost containment goal, flexibility in how to achieve it, accountability if the goal is not met and "sensible" tort reform.

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