Report Says One-Third of Mass. Health Spending in 2012 Was Wasteful
In 2012, Massachusetts spent between 21% and 39% of its total health care expenditures in ways that could be eliminated without harming consumers or reducing the quality of care, according to a report from the state's Health Policy Commission, the AP/Boston Globe reports (AP/Boston Globe, 1/9). Specifically, the commission found that Massachusetts wasted between $14.7 billion and $26.9 billion on such care (Kamp, Wall Street Journal, 1/8).
The report listed several examples of waste, including:
- $700 million in preventable acute hospital readmissions;
- $550 million in unnecessary emergency department visits; and
- Up to $18 million in health care-associated infections.
In addition, the report found that just 5% of patients account for nearly half of the state's health care expenditures (AP/Boston Globe, 1/9).
However, the report also acknowledged federal and state efforts to curb costs, such as a 2012 CMS program that aims to penalize providers for excess readmissions. In addition, the 11-member panel itself was formed under a 2012 state law that aims to control health care costs by setting targets for growth and penalizing providers that exceed those targets. The commission will release a report on how well the state is tracking those goals later this year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The report outlined additional measures the state could take to curb costs, including:
- Boosting cost and quality transparency;
- Better coordinating patient care; and
- Advancing alternative payment methods that reward efficient care.
The report also said the state could reduce health care spending by improving hospital efficiency and better managing patients whose care accounts for a significant portion of the state's total costs.
In response to the report, the Massachusetts Hospital Association said that hospitals already are implementing several of the recommended methods for reducing costs, "although more certainly can and will be done."
The association also noted that the report used a lot of 2009 data, which predated changes in the state's health care payment and delivery systems (Wall Street Journal, 1/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.