UPDATED: Governor Patrick Talks Payment Reform: “The next big frontier is payment reform”

UPDATE: In his inaugural speech, the Governor was clear about his vision of health care cost control and payment reform:

We can’t be satisfied until health care is as affordable as it is accessible. That means creating incentives for all providers to work together to deliver better care at lower cost, improving transparency in the charges for services, reforming the medical malpractice system, and getting excessive paperwork out of the way of the relationship between doctor and patient. It means a new emphasis on wellness and prevention.

And it means that we must change the way we pay for health care. So, we will file legislation in the coming weeks to address health care cost, including significant payment reform and simplification. This will be a challenge. There will be great debate and resistance to change. But working families, small and large businesses alike, and governments, too, need a solution – and they need it now.

Some steps we can take immediately without waiting for new laws. At my direction, MassHealth, the Health Care Connector and the Group Insurance Commission will implement pilot programs to demonstrate new, more cost-effective ways to buy health care. To get different results, we need to start trying different things. And we need to start now.

We will work on these and other plans with our partners in the health care industry and in Washington, as well as with patient advocates. Everyone, insurers, hospitals, physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals, and especially patients, needs to be a part of this solution. But let me be clear: The time for talk is over. The time for action has arrived.

On the day before his second inaugural, Governor Patrick spoke to a number of media outlets, and always mentioned payment reform as a key priority of second term.

In his talk with the editors of Blue Mass Group (segment 5 in these audio clips, a bit tough to hear), he emphasized the imperative of controlling health care costs if we are to sustain our recovery. He signaled that he plans to introduce a payment reform bill, along with Senate President Murray, within the next few weeks; and that he’d like to accelerate the 5-year timetable for transitioning to all payers using a reformed payment system recommended by the payment reform commission.

He also reiterated his pride at having 98% of all residents covered (“there’s not another state in American that can touch that”) and that the coalition that worked on passing the law stayed together to work on implementation. “Health is a public good,” he emphasized.

WBUR talked with Secretary Bigby, covering similar ground. We’re declaring 2011 the year of payment reform, and look forward to Massachusetts again leading the nation.
-Brian Rosman

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