BOSTON – Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released a report evaluating the impact of the health care cost containment legislation passed in 2012, known as Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012.
Through the most comprehensive analysis done on the state of health care in Massachusetts, Bump’s office found that health care costs continue to increase, but these increases are lower in Massachusetts than the national per-capita spending.
Additionally, the report shows that while the state has maintained access to care, it continues to struggle with hospital readmissions, avoidable emergency department visits, care coordination, and integration of behavioral health into primary care. Bump’s analysis also details significant disparities in outcomes for low-income and minority residents persist.
Finally, the report found that while the health care workforce is growing, wages remain stagnant for low-wage workers.
“Our analysis indicates that policymakers have prioritized the right areas on which to focus,” said State Auditor Suzanne Bump. “This report gives the Legislature important insight into where our state stands and will help to guide further efforts to improve health care for residents of the Commonwealth.”
The report examined the law’s impact in five key areas:
- health care costs, out-of-pocket costs, insurance premiums, costs borne by the Commonwealth and the uninsured;
- access and quality of care in different regions for children, older adults, low-income individuals and people with disabilities;
- access and quality of care for specific services – primary care and behavioral health;
- workforce development; and
- specific aspects of public health.
“What struck me the most is the continued racial and ethnic disparities in health care and the importance of our MassHealth program. Federal disinvestments in this program will be detrimental to the progress we have made and that still needs to be made. It is also clear that we need to better understand our workforce needs, for we face a looming crisis with a growing need for direct care workers – who need to earn a living wage,” Bump said.
The report is intended to add information to the ongoing discussions about health care cost containment by the Legislature, advocates, providers, researchers and other stakeholders. Using data from a variety of sources from both state and external entities, the research team developed a study that established a baseline of the state’s position in the above areas prior to the 2012 legislation and for four years after that.
Bump’s office was tasked with producing this report as part of the law’s passage.
By statute, the report is due to the legislature by June 30, 2017.
The report is available in its entirety on the Auditor’s website at: http://www.mass.gov/auditor/about-the-state-auditors-office/ch-224/