MMS Statement on the Release of Senate Payment Reform Legislation

Contact: Richard Gulla
Tel: 781-434-7101
Email: rgulla@mms.org

Following is a statement from Lynda M. Young, M.D., President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, following the release today of payment reform legislation by the State Senate.

"With the release of the Senate bill today, we now have two detailed legislative approaches to payment reform, along with the Governor's legislation from last year. We recognize the need to bend the cost curve in Massachusetts, and we will continue to work with the House, the Senate and the Governor for the remainder of the session, to ensure that the final legislation aligns with the following principles.

"We assert that the market is working, and has already been doing an effective job controlling the growth in the cost of health care over the last two years. The most responsible approach to continuing this trend would be to empower this market-led approach.

"A market approach would afford us the best chance of ensuring that patients' access to care is preserved; the delivery of quality health care is supported; that we continue to foster innovation; that we maintain the viability of physician practices, and protect the jobs of the many thousands of people who work in health care -without disruption or interruption.

"We support an approach that establishes a reasonable cost control goal over a reasonable period of time. If these reasonable goals are not met, then a detailed review would be initiated, which would inform a set of targeted actions to fairly address the causes of the problem. Any benchmark below the annual growth in the state's economy is too aggressive.

"This is a very complex system. Massachusetts is already among the nation's leaders in designing new models for the delivery of health care. State legislation should foster the innovations that are currently underway. It should allow us the opportunity to learn what works, and provide the flexibility to make corrections when needed. This is an imprecise science, and no one has done anything like this before. This must be a gradual learning process, conducted in a non-punitive environment.

"We also need to be mindful of the risk that a new statutory framework could add administrative burdens on providers and payers who are already staggering under the weight of administrative mandates, many of which add no value to health care. We must simplify, not complicate the administration of health care.

"We are pleased to see language modeled on the University of Michigan's Disclosure, Apology and Offer approach to resolving patients' claim of medical malpractice. This would lead to the faster resolution of cases, increase openness and honesty between patient and provider, allow for provider apologies, reduce the incidence of defensive medicine, and help control and reduce costs. We believe this model would vastly improve the experience of patients with an unanticipated medical outcome, and better foster a culture of safety in our health care system."

The Massachusetts Medical Society, with nearly 24,000 physicians and student members, is dedicated to educating and advocating for the patients and physicians of Massachusetts. The Society publishes the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading global medical journal and web site, and Journal Watch alerts and newsletters covering 13 specialties. The Society is also a leader in continuing medical education for health care professionals throughout Massachusetts, conducting a variety of medical education programs for physicians and health care professionals. Founded in 1781, MMS is the oldest continuously operating medical society in the country.

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