Mass. takes aim at healthcare costs

April 16, 2011 at 9:25 PM

BOSTON, April 16 (UPI) -- Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed controlling medical costs by moving away from the fee-for-service system.

Instead, medical teams would be paid a lump sum to provide all the care a patient needs, The Washington Post reported Friday. Patrick introduced a legislative package in February.

Almost all, 98 percent, of Massachusetts residents have health insurance, the highest rate in the country. The law signed by Gov. Mitt Romney was a model for President Obama's healthcare reform plan.

The state spends 15 percent more per person for healthcare than the national average. Patrick said that has to change.

The fee-for-service system gives healthcare providers an incentive to provide unnecessary and even harmful tests and procedures. Massachusetts officials have still not figured out the details of how a global payment system would work and how doctors who practice alone or in small groups would fit in.

"We are preparing ourselves to grapple with a certain amount of constructive disruption in the industry," Patrick told the Post in an interview. "It's a journey."

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