This just in from Michael Norton at State House News Service:
Stepping in front of a planned announcement from state senators, House leaders late Thursday said they’ll unveil a long-awaited health care payment reform and cost control bill on Friday.
According to House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s office, the bill will be unveiled during a 2:30 p.m. press conference in Nurses Hall with Health Care Financing Committee Co-chairman Rep. Steven Walsh (D-Lynn) and other members of the committee.
Senate President Therese Murray said last week the Senate planned to debate its version of Gov. Deval Patrick’s payment reform bill, filed in February 2011, in mid- May, after the bill emerged from the Senate Ways and Means Committee. This week, Murray said the Senate bill would be released next week.
Rumors began circulating on Beacon Hill Wednesday that a House health care bill might emerge on Friday, before the Senate bill. Until Thursday afternoon, House aides either declined to respond or declined comment when asked to confirm those plans or whether committee members were voting on bill.
After 14 months of review, the Health Care Financing Committee last week released Patrick’s bill to the Senate, with Walsh (D-Lynn) saying the panel released the governor’s bill at the Senate’s request. Murray on Wednesday expressed surprise at Walsh’s assertion. On Thursday, committee co-chair Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge) said he was not aware of any plans by the House to release its own bill.
The Legislature and Gov. Patrick have passed a pair of major health care bills since Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006 signed the landmark law requiring Massachusetts residents to have health insurance or pay tax penalties. While both of those laws included components aimed at addressing rising health care costs, the payment reform bill is viewed as possibly the most aggressive effort to control costs while also striving towards the goal of improving and better coordinating patient care and reducing unnecessary testing.
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