Highlights of Mass. House health care payment bill
BOSTON—Massachusetts House leaders have unveiled a health care bill they say will save the state's economy more than $160 billion over the next 15 years. The bill would:
-- Require electronic medical records by 2017 to let emergency room doctors call up a patient's medical history while simultaneously notifying the patient's primary care doctor of the emergency room visit;
-- Reduce premiums for patients who show they're committed to maintaining their health and following their doctor's advice;
-- Create a new consumer website with detailed comparative price and quality information for medical procedures, hospitals and insurers;
-- Encourage more medical students to go into primary care by providing loan forgiveness grants for those who work in rural and underserved areas;
-- Help the health care industry make the transition to alternative payments systems such as "global payments" and bundled payments for acute or chronic conditions instead of rewarding hospitals and doctors for the number of tests and procedures they do;
-- Require hospitals that charge more than 20 percent above the state median price for a specific service to pay a fee into a fund to help support hospitals that serve the poor;
-- Create a new quasi-public agency, the Division of Health Care Cost and Quality, to oversee the new law and consolidate the state's various health care agencies.
-- Overhaul medical malpractice laws by letting doctors apologize without fearing a lawsuit, creating a 180-day "cooling off period" to give both sides a chance to reach a settlement, and raising the cap on damages for nonprofit hospitals;
-- Establish guidelines for the size of "accountable care organizations," that creates leadership teams to ensure patients receive the physical and mental care they need to keep them healthy;
-- Give patients the option of appealing decisions made by their accountable care organization, including the right to a second opinion from any provider;
-- Create a "medical home" or single point of coordination for each patient's health care needs.