State Senate Opens Debate on Health Care Costs

By Sarah Birnbaum

May 16, 2012

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Senate opened debate Tuesday on a sweeping bill to control the cost of health care in the state.
State Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge) kicked off a lengthy debate on the Senate floor, saying the cost of medical care is out of control.
"It’s certainly hurting individuals and their families by eating up so much cost and threatening medical bankruptcy, making hard choices between food and fuel and health care,” he said.
The bill would allow health spending to grow at a rate equal to or slightly above growth in the gross state product. Right now, health care costs have been growing at twice that rate. The bill would also set up a regulatory authority to oversee health care spending.
Republican minority leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester said the bill was an example of government overreach.
"Why do we need to have bureaucracy blossom this spring faster than the apple trees around the State House?" he said. "I’m wondering why do we have these new agencies, these new authorities, these new reporting requirements?"
The House has yet to debate its version of the bill, which would be costlier to the health care industry. It would impose a somewhat tighter cap on overall health spending, and it would levy a tax on pricey hospitals. The Senate bill doesn’t include this penalty.
A final version of the health cost containment measure is not expected to emerge before July.

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