DeLeo Talks Health Care Cost Containment

At his annual Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce address this morning, Speaker Robert DeLeo gave his most detailed public remarks to date about health care cost-containment legislation, which is a top priority for this legislative session. I wasn't there for the speech, unfortunately, but here is the relevant portion of his prepared remarks, as provided by DeLeo's office. Still thin on the details, but it sounds to me like we're finally going to get a look at the House proposal, which the Senate and the Patrick administration have been waiting on for quite a while.

....Addressing and reforming costs in our health care system remains a priority. While health care reform is a comprehensive issue, there are several essential pieces of our plan that will prove significant to the business community. First is to significantly cut cost-growth in health care. Costs in the health care industry have been growing at an average rate of between 6.7 and 8 percent per year. Our goal will be for medical expenses to grow more in line with Gross State Product, which is 3.7%. Our proposal will provide the means to do so, and will allow the market the necessary time to get there. Thanks to our efforts, insurers and providers are already responding. Costs are coming down, but we need a long term sustainable plan. Health care is a 70 billion dollar industry in Massachusetts, and we need to be more thoughtful in how those dollars are spent.

We will also make aggressive disclosure and transparency changes, giving businesses and consumers the ability to make more informed health care choices. We want to build upon the success of prior reforms which created more limited network and tiered insurance coverage products for businesses and consumers. We want to enhance consumer education and provide protections to empower them to become more engaged. We want to give them the ability to make informed decisions while also ensuring that they will continue to be able to receive the highest quality health care. Additionally, we want to expand initiatives geared towards improved health and fitness through wellness programs. It is important that we create incentives for employees to be more responsible for their health, which will help to reduce the financial burden on the employer.

We recognize that the health care sector is our largest provider of employment, and we do not want to impede innovation. Our aim for this legislation is to preserve our efforts to be the best in health care while comprehensively tackling cost. Five years ago, the Commonwealth made strides in providing access to health care to every citizen. We must make sure that Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in not only access and quality of services, but also in efficiency.

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