Outside groups bring pressure on Massachusetts healthcare prices

The state of Massachusetts is bedeviled by medical costs that are so excessive that groups outside of healthcare delivery are now coalescing to take action.

The Boston Globe reported that the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts,and the National Federation of Independent Business are releasing a report this week detailing the rise in medical prices in the Bay State--an increase that is not always dictated by quality, but by the market clout of specific providers.

"We've studied the hell out of all this stuff; we know it's a problem," Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, told the Globe. "We need to take some action."

The state has been struggling with rising healthcare costs, which a report issued last year by state Attorney General Maura Healey blamed on the wide variation in prices for identical treatments and the use of global payments without taking into consideration the healthcare needs of various populations. Another study conducted last year by the Center for Health Information and Analysis concluded that hospitals in Massachusetts that charge more tend to reap more revenue as a result.

Although Massachusetts has one of the most comprehensive price transparency laws in the nation, it has been a challenge at best for consumers to actually obtain cogent pricing information, which has raised many concerns among consumer advocates.

Meanwhile, state regulators are beginning to throw their weight around a little more with hospitals. A second Globe article reported that a planned $1 billion expansion of Boston Children's Hospital should not move forward without an analysis of how the project will impact healthcare costs in the community. The state Department of Public Health has asked Boston Children's to par for and conduct an independent analysis of the cost impact.

To learn more:
- read the healthcare delivery costs Boston Globe article
- check out the Boston Children's Hospital Boston Globe article