• Health Care Reform Conference

Massachusetts as a Lab for Improving Access, Increasing Affordability

9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 21, 2008
Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont Street, Boston

The Health Care Reform conference, "Massachussetts as a Laboratory for Improving Access and Increasing Affordability," is sponsored by the Health and Biomedical Law Concentration, Health Law Advocates, and Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University.

When Massachusetts enacted An Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care in April 2006, it undertook a comprehensive and visible effort to reform health insurance and health care practices. By requiring every Massachusetts resident to obtain health insurance coverage or its equivalent by July 1, 2007, Massachusetts hoped to eliminate lack of insurance as a cause of inadequate health care. In addition, the statute established reporting and goal-setting mechanisms aimed at improving the quality of health care services, including reducing racial and ethnic disparities. A third feature of the health reform statute creates financial incentives for hospitals meeting certain identified performance measures.

In setting the goal of universal coverage, Massachusetts is building on a strong base of employer-sponsored insurance, a relatively generous Medicaid program, and a low rate of uninsurance. At the time the statute was enacted, only about 10% of the population was uninsured as compared to the national average of 16%. A study conducted after the first year in which insurance was required for all who have access to affordable coverage, shows that uninsurance was reduced and access to care improved.

This conference will explore the challenges that confronted Massachusetts in the initial implementation phase of this ambitious health care reform program. In addition, the impact on the private sector—hospitals and other health care providers, insurers, employers, and individuals—will be examined. The conference will consider options for addressing recent concerns for the program including issues such as the unexpectedly high costs of providing health insurance subsidies for low-income residents and the difficulties encountered in negotiating a renewal of the state’s Medicaid waiver. Panelists will also discuss why controlling health care costs and measuring the quality of services will be essential to the success and longevity of the program.

Register for the Health Care Reform Conference.


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