Breaking: Procedural Progress on Payment Reform – Senate Debate Expected Mid-May (UPDATE From Sen. Moore)

Today the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing discharged the Governor’s payment reform bill, and the bill was assigned to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. This is the procedural step for the Senate to go first on its version of payment reform. From State House News:

Fourteen months after Gov. Deval Patrick filed a proposal on the issue, Senate President Therese Murray said Wednesday she expects the Senate to take action in mid-May on a bill making major changes to the way health care is delivered and paid for in Massachusetts.

“Probably … the week before budget,” Murray told the News Service, referencing the fact that the Senate intends to consider its annual budget plan the week before Memorial Day.

The release of the governor’s bill without changes suggests that the House and Senate were unable to forge agreement on a unified, pre-negotiated proposal, one that could help speed consideration and limit disagreement as lawmakers head toward their five-month campaign and holiday season recess.

This would put Senate floor consideration the week of May 14.

We’re encouraged by the news, and look forward to a strong bill that advances the twin goals of affordable health care and a patient-centered, high-quality delivery system, including public health.

-Brian Rosman

UPDATE – Senate Health Care Financing Chair Richard Moore released a statement on today’s action:

April 25, 2012 … “The Health Care Financing Committee has discharged the Governor’s Payment Reform proposal to the Senate Committee on Ways & Means today. This is an important procedural step, and represents real progress for one of the most complex and daunting challenges the Legislature will confront this session, and in recent memory. Most importantly, today’s action suggests that the Senate is prepared to move forward with a proposal for consideration by the entire Senate sooner, rather than later. The bill that advances to the Ways & Means Committee today will be subject to a significant redraft by the Committee. I expect that this improved bill will balance our desires to deliver meaningful reforms to our health care system, which means genuine cost savings and ultimately better care for consumers, while appreciating the importance of a vital pillar of our economy – our health care system. To say the least, accomplishing as much is as complicated as it is imperative.

“The Health Care Financing Committee has spent much of the past few years engaged in a continuous dialogue about the future of our health care system. This has included 5 statewide hearings on Governor Patrick’s proposal, countless meetings and conversations with stakeholders and other interested parties, and a robust amount of research and investigation about both health care and economic policy. As a result of this work, the Senate stands at the cusp of presenting a proposal that delivers on the promise of identifying real cost savings while not jeopardizing the high quality of care we expect, and deserve.

“I have been encouraged by my work with Chairman Steven Walsh, and have enjoyed collaborating with him on innovative policy solutions. Our work to date will result in a more comprehensive Senate bill, an appropriate response from the House of Representatives, an ultimately deliver a thorough, but efficient, conference committee report.”

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