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Baker Releases Healthcare Priorities for Improved Care in MA

Thursday, August 14, 2014

 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker has released a series of healthcare priorities that as Governor, Baker would work to implement.

These priorities would work to improve care, increase cost transparency, and reduce the cost of healthcare in Massachusetts.

“I am ready to put my tested experience bringing innovation to healthcare to work for the people of Massachusetts, to improve outcomes for patients and reduce costs for families and employers,” said Baker. “Massachusetts is a world leader in healthcare and these proposals will improve services, save money and protect our system from unnecessary federal overreach. Massachusetts is a great place filled with great people and it’s time our healthcare system worked for the people again.”

Baker says that his proposals will allow for patients to act as informed consumers. Additionally, these initiatives would also prioritize primary care and protect Massachusetts’ health system from federal burdens.

Cost Transparency

According to the Baker campaign, cost transparency is a huge issue statewide because identical healthcare services can vary as much as 300-percent while offering no correlation between increased price and improved quality.

Baker wants to combat this pricing discrepancy by requiring healthcare providers to make their average prices for commonly provided services publically available by January 2016.

Baker points to research from University of Chicago in 2013 showing that price transparency reduces healthcare prices because of increased competition. Because of this competition, Massachusetts residents could act as customers, able to make informed decisions.

Improving Coordination of Care

Baker says that Massachusetts is in a primary care crisis because of the state having the longest wait time to see a PCP nationwide at an average of 45 days.

Because of this, Massachusetts has seen a culture of fragmented care, leading to higher costs and more confusion for patients.  Without having a PCP to help navigate the system, patients and families are becoming confused and overwhelmed, leading to missed appointments and repetitive trips to the hospital.

“A Baker administration would permanently increase pay for PCPs by seeking a waiver from Medicare to raise the rates paid to PCPs,” said a press release from the Baker campaign. “Research shows that permanent investment in funding Primary Care would lead to an increased number of PCPs, would allow PCPs to invest in building comprehensive Care teams, and would ultimately reduce healthcare costs long term.”

Solutions for Market-Based Reform

Baker says that Massachusetts enjoyed almost universal health insurance coverage for its residents prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

When Massachusetts was required to comply with the ACA, the state botched the rollout, even after several warning. A faulty website was launched, one that cost the state and residents hundreds of millions of dollars after countless mistakes.

The Baker administration wants to fight for the interests of Massachusetts residents and plans to pursue a waiver process from the federal government to implement federal plans in a balanced way that improves the lives and healthcare of Massachusetts residents.

“A Baker administration would oversee the continued successful reinstatement of the Connector website to ensure it was functioning properly and helping Massachusetts residents access affordable health care in a user-friendly, cost-effective way,” said the Baker campaign. “A Baker administration would decrease the complexity in state regulations on health care providers. The Administration would work with key stakeholders in the health care community to develop policies that meet the needs and improve the care of the residents in the commonwealth.”

 

Related Slideshow: New England’s Healthiest States

The United Health Foundation recently released its 2013 annual reoprt: America's Health Rankings, which provides a comparative state by state analysis of several health measures to provide a comprehensive perspective of our nation's health issues. See how the New England states rank in the slides below.

 

Definitions

All Outcomes Rank: Outcomes represent what has already occurred, either through death, disease or missed days due to illness. In America's Health Rankings, outcomes include prevalence of diabetes, number of poor mental or physical health days in last 30 days, health disparity, infant mortality rate, cardiovascular death rate, cancer death rate and premature death. Outcomes account for 25% of the final ranking.

Determinants Rank: Determinants represent those actions that can affect the future health of the population. For clarity, determinants are divided into four groups: Behaviors, Community and Environment, Public and Health Policies, and Clinical Care. These four groups of measures influence the health outcomes of the population in a state, and improving these inputs will improve outcomes over time. Most measures are actually a combination of activities in all four groups. 

Diabetes Rank: Based on percent of adults who responded yes to the question "Have you ever been told by a doctor that you have diabetes?" Does not include pre-diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy.

Smoking Rank: Based on percentage of adults who are current smokers (self-report smoking at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and currently smoke).

Obesity Rank: Based on percentage of adults who are obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher.

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/

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6. Rhode Island

Overall Rank: 19

Outcomes Rank: 30

Determinants Rank: 13

Diabetes Rank: 26

Smoking Rank: 14

Obesity Rank: 13

 

Strengths:

1. Low prevalence of obesity

2. High immunization coverage among adolescents

3. Ready availability of primary care physicians  

Challenges:

1.High rate of drug deaths

2. High rate of preventable hospitalizations

3. Large disparity in heath status by educational attainment

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/RI

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5. Maine

Overall Rank: 16

Outcomes Rank: 25

Determinants Rank: 12

Diabetes Rank: 23

Smoking Rank: 29

Obesity Rank: 28

 

Strengths:

1. Low violent crime rate

2. Low percentage of uninsured population

3. Low prevalence of low birthweight  

Challenges:

1. High prevalence of binge drinking

2.High rate of cancer deaths

3. Limited availability of dentists

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/ME

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4. Connecticut

Overall Rank: 7

Outcomes Rank: 15

Determinants Rank: 4

Diabetes Rank: 16

Smoking Rank: 4

Obesity Rank: 12

 

Strengths:

1. Low prevalence of smoking

2. Low incidence of infectious diseases

3. High immunization coverage among children & adolescents  

Challenges:

1. Moderate prevalence of binge drinking

2. Low high school graduation rate

3. Large disparity in health status by educational attainment

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/CT

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3. New Hampshire

Overall Rank: 5

Outcomes Rank: 7

Determinants Rank: 5

Diabetes Rank: 16

Smoking Rank: 11

Obesity Rank: 22

 

Strengths:

1. Low percentage of children in poverty

2. High immunization coverage among children

3. Low infant mortality rate  

Challenges:

1. High prevalence of binge drinking

2.High incidence of pertussis infections

3. Low per capita public health funding

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/NH

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2. Massachusetts

Overall Rank: 4

Outcomes Rank: 14

Determinants Rank: 3

Diabetes Rank: 10

Smoking Rank: 7

Obesity Rank: 2

 

Strengths:

1. Low prevalence of obesity

2. Low percentage of uninsured population

3. Ready availability of primary care physicians & dentists  

Challenges:

1. High prevalence of binge drinking

2. High rate of preventable hospitalizations

3. Large disparity in health status by educational attainment

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/MA

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1. Vermont

Overall Rank: 2

Outcomes Rank: 12

Determinants Rank: 1

Diabetes Rank: 4

Smoking Rank: 9

Obesity Rank: 5

 

Strengths:

1. High rate of high school graduation

2. Low violent crime rate

3. Low percentage of uninsured population  

Challenges:

1. High prevalence of binge drinking

2. Low immunization coverage among children

3. High incidence of pertussis infections

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/VT

 
 

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