Controlling costs and increasing access are the highlights of Governor Baker's latest healthcare bill. Filed in mid-March, the bill is reminiscent of legislation filed by the Baker administration in 2019 before the pandemic began, though the Governor notes that this most recent bill incorporates lessons learned during the pandemic.
The bill would set a spending target for primary and behavioral health care, which would force providers to invest in approaches like extended office hours, emergency behavioral health care, and workforce development. While providers and payers would need to stay within the state's healthcare cost growth benchmark while meeting the spending target, the bill allows providers to be flexible in what strategies they use to stay within the guidelines. The Governor's bill also creates requirements for insurance carriers to cover some unanticipated out of network care, hold drug manufacturers responsible for excessive price increases, and instill market reforms to support individual and small business health insurance purchasers.
The bill would increase access to care by supporting the healthcare workforce and updating scope of practice standards. The bill calls for more research into addressing the state's healthcare workforce needs and enters Massachusetts into an interstate agreement that streamlines the licensing process for physicians working across state lines, among other changes.
To learn more specifics about the bill, click here. The legislature's formal session ends on July 31st of this year.