Not so fast, Gov. Patrick

In today’s Boston Globe:

[Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s new health care bill] would establish standards for groups of hospitals and doctors called accountable care organizations, which are expected to become common as providers band together to treat patients and coordinate their care for a budgeted fee, splitting these so-called global payments. The bill would give the insurance commissioner the authority to regulate accountable care organizations and the attorney general the power to examine provider consolidation for potential antitrust problems.

Legislators were generally supportive, but made it clear that the proposal will undergo, in the words of House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, “a long, involved debate process, with extensive fact-finding.’’

“It’s very complicated, and we’re going to take our time and go through it,’’ said Senate President Therese Murray. “We will have questions about a lot of things.’’ […]

Other interested parties signaled what they will focus on as the bill moves through the Legislature.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association was disappointed that the proposal did not contain a plan for raising Medicaid fees to providers, which it contends are far below the cost of caring for patients. […]

Dr. Alice Coombs, head of the Massachusetts Medical Society, which represents doctors, applauded the bill for proposing changes to the medical malpractice system, including barring a doctor’s apology to a patient for a medical error from being used as evidence against the doctor in a lawsuit. But, she said, rules must not penalize doctors who are unable to afford the expensive electronic medical records necessary to coordinate care and manage global payments.

Still, it’s possible that Massachusetts will beat the rest of the country to some more sustainable payment system. It just isn’t going to happen quickly or go down so easily with some stakeholders. That’s a lesson for the nation too.

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