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Attorney General Sees Hopeful Signs on Health Care Cost Control

Posted on May 11, 2012

Attorney General Martha Coakley said today that Massachusetts has a “unique opportunity” to lead the nation in controlling health care costs, much as it led the nation six years ago in expanding health care coverage.

CoakleyCoakley told more than 500 employers at the AIM Annual Meeting in Waltham that changes in the health care market and pending health reform legislation on Beacon Hill both provide hopeful signs that the commonwealth will limit rising health premiums. She stressed, however, that reform will not succeed unless employers and workers become engaged in the process and make themselves knowledgeable consumers of health care.

“We need you to have more skin in the game and make sure you understand what your investment is and what you are paying for in a  competitive market,” said Coakley, whose two studies of the health care market highlighted the cost imbalances caused by the market power of large hospitals.

“The goal is to make sure people can make the choices for coverage and health care that work for them.”

Coakley spent much of her keynote address discussing health care and electricity, both of which represent major cost disadvantages for Massachusetts employers. She said the objective with electricity is to obtain the long-term economic benefits of clean energy while managing the short-term increase in the cost to develop renewable energy sources.

She said that she has worked with AIM and the Legislature to support three major changes to the commonwealth’s energy policy:

  • Ensure that long term electricity contracts are competitively bid;
  • Eliminate sweetheart financial incentives; and
  • Develop renewable energy on a technology neutral basis.

She also reported that her office is seeking to simplify consumer energy bills to give consumers a clear idea of what they are buying.

The attorney general’s address capped a meeting that emphasized the role of education in the economic future of Massachusetts.

A panel of business executives and state education officials earlier told the audience that Massachusetts employers will ensure their own competitiveness by helping students attain the academic background and applied skills they need either to attend college or go into the work force.

The panel maintained that companies must clearly articulate their business strategies and the skills workers need to he

“How many of us are willing to say we are in this for the long term?” said Angelo Sabatalo, Corporate Director of Operational Training and Development at NYPRO Inc. in Clinton.
Maura Banta of IBM Corporation, Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, said a task force of the board is looking at strategies to improve the way schools prepare students to enter the workforce.

“It’s a very exciting process and project,” Banta said.