The Fight Over How Deeply To Cut Health Care Costs

A behind the scenes fight about what goal Massachusetts should set for cutting health care costs burst into the open tonight. The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) and the state’s largest employer group, Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) are both calling for a target that would mean deep cuts.

Although health care spending has been growing at least twice as fast as the rest of the state’s economy, these groups say the state must hold health care spending to two points below the state’s gross state product (GSP). OK, this is wonky, but you’re going to hear a lot about health care and GSP in the coming months, so let’s plunge in. GSP-2 would be a big change. It would mean spending tens of billions less by 2020.

Prepared by Diana Eastman, Research Associate, Harvard School of Public Health

GBIO president Rev. Burns Stanfield says, “Our state must take strong action to reverse the trend of the growth of health care costs and provide incentives to create a health care system that rewards quality not quantity; health care not sick care.”

In a blog post tonight, AIM president and CEO Rick Lord says, “the math is pretty simple.” If one third of all health care spending is waste (care that doesn’t make us better), then “the process of keeping health care cost growth below economic growth seems reasonable.”

The Massachusetts Hospital Association says GSP -2 is a dangerous goal that would disrupt health care in the state and force some hospitals to close.

We’ll have more reaction on Wednesday to the proposals from GBIO and AIM.

In the meantime, here’s some additional data from Diana Eastman, a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health, that shows the dollar differences between various goals.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Circusmcgurkus

    Oh, and PLEASE stop calling this madness “health care”.  It is the cost of medical coverage.  It has nothing to do with health or care.  Indeed, it is the opposite.  It is attention for medical emergencies and the failures of health.  The only thing they care about is reimbursement costs.

  • Circusmcgurkus

    It’s really not that hard; stop paying huge salaries to insurance employees.  Stop paying anything to insurance companies and have a single payer system. 

    Force the medical community to the real numbers about their irrational fear of lawsuits (which is far less than 1% of all medical costs and they are so hard to prove that a physician really needs to screw up…and shouldn’t that person be sued??)  Once the truth is out the ridiculous unnecessary tests should end.  Force patients to deal with reality that not every sniffle needs a doctor.  People should go to doctors when they are sick and not when they are well.  And we should stop believing that medicine has or should have allt he answers.  Let doctors be doctors – fallible, but dedicated healers and honest when they cannot help.

    And, above all: BAN all advertising for hospitals and medical providers.  We know where they are.  Stop telling us we need your drugs and surgeries when we really do not.  Stop pushing meds and services from which ANYONE at the facility takes a cut.  Trust that health providers who are not affiliated with the corrupt business of medicine are very, very helpful to wellness such as acupunturists, personal trainers, yoga instructors, pilates instructors and wellness coaches.  Most are highly trained and very knowledgeable.  Stop treating them like pariahs.  They save a ton of money and help people get well quicker and more cheaply than loading the body up with pills and shots that just make everything worse.

    In other words, throw this dead baby out with the bathwater and start over with real information and not the nonsense idiocy that passes for science in this uneducated country.  Stop being so dependent on doctors and stop telling them that they are gods.  It is the only industry that is essentially unregulated and yet supported by public policy where the public has NO SAY in how things are managed.  Can you say, “corruption”?

  • Julie Lockhart

    Today’s
    story on over ‘How Deeply To Cut Health Care Costs’ was really interesting
    information.

     I would have liked to know how that affects MY health costs.
    Perhaps that will be covered later in the series, I hope so.

    My take
    on the statement is that ‘people’, i.e. John Q Public, will object only if they
    are uninformed as to what is ‘necessary and sufficient’ for their best
    interests.

    The
    people need to ‘man up’ and get with the 21st century knowledge available to
    become an informed consumer. Since ‘too much’ is readily available, using
    medical sources like primary care, cardiologists, pulmonologists and extended
    resources including insurance health ‘hot lines’ will be critical to successful
    personal healthcare cost containment as well as for the success of the state
    healthcare system’s cost containment.

    best
    julie lockhart

    • Martha Bebinger

      Ms. Lockhart – I’m sorry for the delayed response. It’s hard to predict how much your costs would decrease based on each proposed health care spending cap.  We will try to get more on that question in the future.

      Your criteria…”necessary and sufficient” is very smart.  Do you think, based on your experience in health care, that you and your doctor could reach agreement on what is necessary and sufficient?

      It would be great to hear more from your perspective on our patient social network, “healthcare savvy.wbur.org.”

      Thanks for your insights and questions.