Making good on Governor Deval Patrick's promise to reject health insurance rate hikes deemed excessive, the state Division of Insurance this morning turned down 235 of 274 increases proposed by Massachusetts health insurers for small businesses and individuals.
Well, aside from the obvious political football aspect of all this, how do we get at why the rates are going up so much? Is it greedy insurers? Not really. It's the cost of care. You squeeze the balloon one place, it bulges someplace else.
That leads us to the continuing food-fight between the Gov and the former insurance exec Charlie Baker. Both accuse the other of doing nothing about costs in their respective capacities. In that case … why was Charlie Baker sitting on, and actively contributing to, the Governor's Health Care Quality and Cost Council? And I mean right from the beginning: Check the minutes from August 23, 2006 on up to 2009, when Baker resigned in order to run for Gov.
If the Patrick administration has done “nothing” about costs, then that means Baker's done “nothing” about costs.
Fortunately, this isn't true. The Governor signed an initial cost-control bill in 2008; and the Quality and Cost Council developed a “Roadmap for Cost Control”, which included recommendations for fundamentally reforming how we pay for medicine. (Global payments, Accountable Care Organizations, etc.) The implementation updates can be found on the HCQCC's site.
We didn't get into this mess overnight, and it isn't going to be solved overnight. The problems are big, structural, and stubborn.
So in the Governor's race, how about some new, fresh, awesome, ambitious ideas and implementation, rather than finger-pointing and backward-looking?