Mass. health spend­ing comes in be­low tar­get

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Melanie Evans

Health spend­ing in Mas­sachusetts last year stayed be­low the tar­get set by state pol­i­cy­mak­ers to keep med­i­cal bills from grow­ing faster than the econ­omy.

That’s ac­cord­ing to the first re­port from the Mas­sachusetts Cen­ter for Health In­for­ma­tion and Anal­y­sis, an in­de­pen­dent agency cre­ated by land­mark leg­is­la­tion sup­ported and signed into law by Gov. De­val Pa­trick in 2012. The agency tracked the growth of health in­surance and med­i­cal costs—in­clud­ing what Mas­sachusetts pa­tients paid from house­hold bud­gets for co­pays, de­ductibles and coin­sur­ance—and de­ter­mined whether those costs ac­cel­er­ated more quickly than an­nual tar­gets tied to the state’s eco­nomic growth. The re­sults are good news for the state, which adopted the ag­gres­sive ap­proach as health spend­ing per­sis­tently rose 6% to 7% be­fore and after the state ex­panded ac­cess to in­surance cov­er­age dur­ing the ten­ure of Gov. Mitt Rom­ney, with a law con­sid­ered as the tem­plate for the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act. But the re­port sheds lit­tle light on what was re­spon­si­ble for the turn­around.

The state’s spend­ing growth in 2013—2.3%—was more than 1 per­cent­age point slower than its 3.6% tar­get (the state’s pro­jected eco­nomic growth) and also lower than the state’s 2.6% ac­tual eco­nomic growth last year. And re­sults in com­ing years could mat­ter beyond its bor­ders, as pol­i­cy­mak­ers else­where con­sider their own at­tempts to hold health spend­ing in check and de­bate how slow is slow enough. To­tal health spend­ing in the state was $50.5 bil­lion in 2013, or $7,550 a per­son.

The 2.3% growth in Mas­sachusetts still ex­ceeded the in­fla­tion rate of 1.5%. The mod­est spend­ing growth also came at a time of record slow growth in na­tional health spend­ing.

Gov. De­val Pa­trick

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