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Trying to Control Health Care Costs in Massachusetts

Trying to Control Health Care Costs in Massachusetts

Picture of Martha Bebinger

The health coverage law Massachusetts passed in 2006 became a model for the national Affordable Care Act. But there is widespread recognition that attempts to expand coverage will fail unless the US figures out how to reduce rising health care costs. My project focuses on efforts to lower health care spending in Massachusetts, efforts that are putting the state, once again, in the national spotlight.

The main strategy in both the public and private sectors is to shift from fee for service to global payments. There is also growing pressure for at least temporary price controls. I hope to use the fellowship and the insights of my colleagues to help me design a brilliant coverage plan for this critically important by sometimes mind numbing debate.

I imagine that the coverage plan will include:

1) a creative approach to the explainer type stories,

2) stories that personalize the issues and impact of lower health care spending on patients, doctors, hospitals and other providers

3) an investigation of how mental health services may be affected by changing the way we pay for health care and trying to cut costs

a continuing emphasis on prevention and all the factors that affect health: housing, access to healthy food, exercise, smoking, etc.

of course I will also cover the political and policy debate that is expected to heat up this fall in the state legislature.

In addition to producing stories about changes that are underway in Massachusetts, I plan to have a robust online forum where patients and providers can talk about their personal experiences. I have just started the first part of this element. It's a community of patients who shop for care based on cost, quality and whether they need care. I'm building this community on a social networking platform that includes: members, places to compare costs and quality, tips on how to talk to providers about costs and a forum.

Eventually, I imagine that this patient community and all of our coverage on health care costs at WBUR will live on its own page.

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