Recent Developments in Massachusetts Health Policy

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Building on the momentum of early October hearings on the state’s growing health care expenditures, the Health Policy Commission (HPC), the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, Governor Charlie Baker, and others spent the past two weeks crafting new policies for the industry and its consumers. Included among the measures under consideration are those that would give the HPC a greater role in blocking transactions it deemed anticompetitive, require equal reimbursements for telemedicine, and place additional restrictions on opioids. Following this report on recent developments in health care is a guide to the HPC’s Annual Cost Trends Hearings.

HPC reports may gain legal weight -

A bill that would give legal weight to HPC reports on proposed mergers between health care providers was the focus of discussion at last Wednesday’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing hearing. H3678, An Act relative to protecting health care consumers, is a joint effort between Attorney General Maura Healey and House Majority Leader Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). Under the legislation, the HPC’s Cost and Market Impact Reviews on proposed mergers between providers would become a “rebuttable presumption” in a court case brought by the Attorney General, which the company would have to dispute. Both authors said the legislation would protect Massachusetts consumers from the decrease in market competition that can follow mergers and acquisitions, while letting beneficial transactions proceed. This is necessary because of a recent uptick in provider consolidation and the lack of case law in the area, Healey said. Mariano added that it furthers the legislature’s intent in establishing the HPC, since they wanted to give the body more teeth but “punted” on the issue.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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