It is one of the enjoyable mysteries of legislative politics that last-minute bills often accomplish things that people have been talking about for months and even years. The MA Legislature goes out of session later today, and it is prepared to take an up-or-down vote on a comprehensive bill regarding health care costs, insurance premiums, and the like. I have just read the conference report. I can't say that I fully understand all the provisions, but there are some that are in the knock-your-socks-off category for those of us who care about transparency of rates, costs, and clinical outcomes. It is clear from these and other sections that the Attorney General's report on payment disparities among the various providers issued earlier this year had a major impact on the structure and scope of the bill.
Congratulations to the Senate and House leadership for moving things along and reaching this agreement!
[Saturday night addition: The bill later passed the Senate unanimously, 40-0, and likewise the House, 153-0.]
A recitation of a few sections:
Public reporting of relative prices -- Notwithstanding any special or general law to the contrary, the division of health care finance and policy, in consultation with the division of insurance, shall promulgate regulations on or before October 1, 2010 to establish uniform methodology for calculating and reporting relative prices paid to hospitals, physician groups, other health care providers licensed under chapter 112 of the General Laws, freestanding surgical centers by each private and public health care payer under section 6 of chapter 118G of the General Laws. The uniform methodology for calculating and reporting relative prices under this section shall, at a minimum: (i) specify a method for basing the calculation on a uniform mix of products and services by payer that is case mix neutral; (ii) specify a uniform method for including in the calculation all nonclaims related payments to providers, including supplemental payments of any type, such as pay-for-performance, care management payments, infrastructure payments, grants, surplus payments, lump sum settlements, signing bonuses, and government payer shortfall payments; (iii) permit reporting of relative price in the aggregate for all physician groups whose price equals the payer’s standard fee schedule rates; and (vi) designate and annually update the comprehensive list of physician groups for which payers shall report relative prices.
Establishing uniform methodologies for hospital cost reporting -- Notwithstanding any special or general law to the contrary, the division of health care finance and policy, in consultation with the division of insurance, shall promulgate regulations on or before October 1, 2010 to establish uniform methodology for calculating and reporting inpatient and outpatient costs, including direct and indirect costs, for all hospitals under section 6 of chapter 118G of the General Laws. The division shall, as necessary and appropriate, promulgate regulations or amendments to its existing regulations to require hospitals to report cost and cost trend information in a uniform manner including, but not limited to, uniform methodologies for reporting the cost and cost trend for categories of direct labor, debt service, depreciation, advertising and marketing, bad debt, stoploss insurance, malpractice insurance, health information technology, medical management, development, fundraising, research, academic costs, charitable contributions, and operating margins for all commercial business and for all state and federal government business, including but not limited to Medicaid, Medicare, insurance through the group insurance commission and federal Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services.
Outcomes reporting -- The department of public health shall promulgate regulations under section 25P of chapter 111 of the General Laws by December 31, 2010 requiring the uniform reporting of a standard set of health care quality measures for each health care provider facility, medical group, or provider group in the commonwealth hereinafter referred to as the “Standard Quality Measure Set.” The department of public health shall convene a statewide advisory committee which shall recommend to the department by November 1, 2010 the Standard Quality Measure Set. The statewide advisory committee shall consist of the commissioner of health care finance and policy or the commissioner’s designee, who shall serve as the chair; and up to 8 members, including the executive director of the group insurance commission and the Medicaid director, or the directors designees; and up to 6 representatives of organizations to be appointed by the governor including at least 1 representative from an acute care hospital or hospital association, 1 representative from a provider group or medical association or provider association, 1 representative from a medical group, 1 representative from a private health plan or health plan association, 1 representative from an employer association and 1 representative from a health care consumer group.....
At a minimum, the Standard Quality Measure Set shall consist of the following quality measures: (i) the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hospital process measures for acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, pneumonia and surgical infection prevention; (ii) the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey; (iii) the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set reported as individual measures and as a weighted aggregate of the individual measures by medical or provider group; and (iv) the Ambulatory Care Experiences Survey.