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AIM President Named to Commission to Oversee Health Costs

Posted on November 14, 2012

Associated Industries of Massachusetts President Richard C. Lord has been named to represent employers on the board of a new commission that will regulate the state’s health care system and monitor limits on the growth of health-care costs.

LORD alternate.MediumState Auditor Suzanne M. Bump appointed Lord to the board of the Health Policy Commission (HPC), a semi-independent entity charged with setting the annual health cost growth benchmark established under a law approved in August. The commission will monitor progress through annual cost trends hearings; register provider organizations; certify Accountable Care Or-ganizations (ACOs) and Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs); and administer the Healthcare Payment Reform Fund.

Stuart Altman, an economist and national health policy expert from Brandeis University, will chair the commission.

“The Health Policy Commission will be at the center of Massachusetts’ first-in-the-nation effort to maintain a world-class health-care system that employers and consumers can afford,” Lord said.

“AIM believes that the health-care market can ultimately correct itself without overly restrictive government intervention if everyone works together as they did when Massachusetts passed health care reform in 2006.” 

The cost-containment bill signed by Governor Deval Patrick limits the increase in medical spending in Massachusetts to a level equal to overall economic growth from 2013 until 2017. The spending growth target will drop to 0.5 percentage points below gross state product from 2018-2022 before returning to the economic growth benchmark in 2023 and beyond.

The Massachusetts economy has been growing at 3.7 percent annually in recent years, while medical spending rose between 6 and 7 percent prior to the economic downturn. AIM supported a more aggressive cost-control target of two percentage points below economic growth, but nevertheless commended the Legislature and governor for moving forward with cost-control sequel to the landmark 2006 reform.

The legislation largely affirms changes already taking place in the health care market – paying doctors for outcomes instead of procedures, steering patients to doctors who provide good care at reasonable prices, and coordinating care to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital. The law also provides changes sought by employers in the formula for calculating fair share assessments under the 2006 health reform law.

“The work of the commission requires extraordinarily talented individuals who are well equipped to advance its mandate and to represent the interests of all major stakeholders,” said Bump. “Their leadership will help enable us to devise a more effective and affordable healthcare model.”

The Health Policy Commission marks the latest in a series of high-profile appointments that Lord and AIM have undertaken as part of the association’s leadership role in addressing the health-cost crisis. Lord served as a charter member of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority from 2006-2010, and currently serves as a director of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation and the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative.

AIM not only pushed hard for the new cost-control law, but has also developed a multi-year educational initiative called The Solution to help employers take advantage of the landmark changes taking place within the health-care system. The education program includes a seven-session certificate series on health cost management, Webinars, on-site benefits consultation and online resources.

Separately, the association recently expanded its Health Care Committee to establish a working relationship among employers, insurers, hospitals and doctors. The committee is the only one of its kind, allowing business people and health care experts to collaborate on issues including Federal and state health care reform reconciliation, chronic disease management and emergency care usage.