Tag Archives: affordability

Transparency on Our Finances

In an effort to be transparent about hospital finance, we offer some context, and some of the reasons why it’s important for hospitals to maintain financial stability.

Occasionally, as part of the ongoing health care cost dialogue, the issue of hospital assets is raised and the question is asked – why do hospitals need “reserves”? A state report in 2010 showed that many hospitals and health systems across the state had some level of investment assets.

One point to consider – hospitals, unlike insurance companies, do not have reserves. Hospitals maintain investment assets. In fact, the state report referenced above stated, “While relatively clear standards for insurer surplus have been developed[…]hospitals do not generally designate assets as ‘reserves’ except for certain liquid assets set aside to meet debt service requirements.”

On the other hand, insurance companies, like Neighborhood Health Plan (NHP), which recently joined the Partners family, are required by regulators to maintain a certain level of reserves/surplus

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Tags: affordability

A Community Focus on Health Care Costs

Gary Gottlieb. Image courtesy of GBIO

Gary Gottlieb, M.D. speaks to the crowd at a discussion organized by Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. (Image courtesy of GBIO)

Gary Gottlieb, M.D., President and CEO of Partners HealthCare, last night joined with health care and community leaders from throughout Massachusetts to engage in a dialogue on health care costs — and how to control them.

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Tags: affordability, industry interactions

Can the U.S. Lower the Cost of Health Care?

This week some of the nation’s most respected health care organizations released a video discussing how the health care industry can help lower the cost of care. David Blumenthal, MD, president of the Commonwealth Fund (and formerly employed by Partners HealthCare), lays out his vision for solving the nation’s health care problem in the video, produced by The Alliance for Health Reform and supported by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“We spend 18% of our GDP on health care and get no more value than countries that spend 7, 8, 10, 12% of their GDP on health care,” Blumenthal notes in the video. But with its immense size and complexity, how can the U.S. health care system actually cut costs?

Blumenthal suggests there are three options for lowering costs: decrease the number of people eligible for health insurance, raise premium costs for consumers and decrease coverage, or make the health system work better.

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Tags: affordability, redesigning care

Bringing Healthy Meals and Summer Fun to Massachusetts Children

Lynn Summer Food Service Program Group Photo
At Partners HealthCare, keeping patients healthy is just as important as treating them when they’re ill. During the summer, we partner with Project Bread and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to do just that – and make prevention more fun, in the process.

Once again we are working with Project Bread to bring healthy lunches to children who are at risk of going hungry during the summer months. Matt Fishman, Vice President for Community Health, Partners Healthcare, said:

This important program helps to keep children well nourished and active during the summer months. It embodies prevention: one of our highest priorities in our partnerships to improve the health of communities we serve.

In fact, we’ve grown our commitment to the SFSP to provide healthy meals to more than 8,688 children in seven communities, including Boston, Lynn, Chelsea, Salem, Revere, Haverhill and Lawrence.

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Tags: affordability, community

The Numbers Are In – and Health Care Costs Are Slowing

As one of just 32 participants selected to take part in the U.S. government’s Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) initiative, Partners HealthCare has decreased the rate of growth among health care costs for approximately 52,000 Medicare patients, leading to $14.4 million in savings that are shared between Partners and the federal government. New federal data show a 2.4 percent slowdown in the rate of cost growth for Medicare patients in our program, compared with national figures.

The Pioneer ACO initiative, sponsored by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center, strives to offer Medicare patients higher quality, coordinated care at a lower cost. In addition to significantly lowering costs, we also performed well in nearly every measurement of quality the government tracked, and maintained low mortality rates.

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Tags: affordability, redesigning care

The Economics of Cardiovascular Disease

When it comes to preventive medicine, keeping patients healthy and ensuring that care is affordable go hand in hand. At Partners HealthCare we’re always looking for ways to improve the health of our communities, especially through education and prevention.

One area of growing concern is heart health: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for Americans. February is American Heart Month, and Dr. Michael R. Jaff, DO, chair of the MGH Institute for Heart, Vascular and Stroke Care, recently addressed the rising cost of treatment for cardiovascular disease. The following Q&A is reprinted from the February 1st issue of MGH Hotline.

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Tags: affordability, uniform high quality

New York Times: Health Care Costs Experience ‘Sharp’ Slowdown in Growth

As President Obama noted in his State of the Union Address, “the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs.” This is borne out in a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The New York Times reports that the CBO shows the nation is experiencing a prolonged and persistent slowdown in the growth of health care costs. In fact, between 2009 and 2011, total health spending grew at the slowest pace since the government started keeping records more than 50 years ago. Recent data suggests that the encouraging trend continued in 2012.

What is behind the slowdown in health care costs? While there is no single answer, experts point to the structural changes that the health care industry has undergone. CBO chief Douglas W. Elmendorf attributes a ‘significant’ part of the cost slowdown to this type of change and reorganization.

At Partners HealthCare we are leading the way forward on change.

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Tags: affordability, industry interactions

Partnering With Health Centers to Transform Patient Care

At the Brockton event (l to r): Gary L. Gottlieb, MD, Partners President and CEO; Sue Joss, Executive Director, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center; James W. Hunt, Jr., President and CEO, MA League of Community Health Centers; Linda M. Balzotti, Mayor of Brockton; Matt Fishman, VP Community Health, Partners; Deborah C. Enos, President and CEO, NHP; Dr. Lauren Smith, Interim Commissioner, MA Department of Public Health.

Health care in Massachusetts is in the midst of rapid and sweeping change as we identify new and innovative ways to improve patient care while making that care affordable and accessible. It is a time in which providers and insurers are expected to think differently about coordination by developing improved methods to deliver care to patients. When Neighborhood Health Plan formally joined the Partners HealthCare family, we launched a new initiative aimed at aiding and supporting exactly this type of positive transformation.

In October, we announced that we’d be providing up to $90 million in grants to community health centers (CHCs) over the next 15 years through our newly created Partnership for Community Health. This week in separate events in Brockton and Lawrence, we joined with community health center leaders, state officials and clinical staff to report that the first round of grants will help each and every health center in the state to improve care in their communities.

In total, $4.25 million will benefit 49 community health centers spanning the entire state, from Boston to Holyoke.

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Tags: affordability, community

Bending the Cost Curve Through Sustainability

As the Chair of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, I have the opportunity to see and learn about some of the most innovative approaches to ‘green’ health care in the nation. Last week The Commonwealth Fund released an extraordinary study, “Can Sustainable Hospitals Help Bend the Health Care Cost Curve?”

The answer is a resounding “Yes.”

The study is the first systematic, data-driven analysis of the economic, environmental and health benefits that accrue from implementing a set of initiatives aimed at reducing health care’s large environmental footprint. Eighteen hospitals from different regions of the country, including both Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), participated in the study and reported results in one or more categories.

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Tags: affordability, coordinated care, industry interactions

Partners HealthCare Announces New Agreement with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

At Partners HealthCare we’re committed to improving care and making that care affordable to our patients and their families. Last week, we took another step forward by announcing that we’ve torn up our existing contract with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. The new contract is designed to slow the growth of health care costs for our patients by keeping rate increases in line with general inflation.

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Tags: affordability, coordinated care, industry interactions

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