January 18, 2017

As Obamacare repeal looms, Baker sees new fee, rate caps as best medicine for skyrocketing state health costs

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State House News Service

Gov. Charlie Baker

“The unintended consequences of Massachusetts’ compliance with the Affordable Care Act are forcing taxpayers to cover the cost of a growing number of employed individuals’ health care.” — Baker spokesman

Companies that do not offer their employees health insurance would pay a $2,000 annual assessment per full-time worker to the state under a plan Gov. Charlie Baker intends to offer later this month to blunt the impact of escalating, enrollment-driven costs in the state’s Medicaid program, State House News Service has learned.

The proposal — the bulk of which is expected to be filed within the governor’s budget due on Jan. 25 — would also impose growth caps on the rates health providers can charge for medical services in an effort to control the cost of care in the commercial market and make it more affordable for employers.

Both ideas come as the state is grappling with questions about how to control growth in healthcare costs in the public and private markets and as enrollment in MassHealth has reached an all-time high (a projected 1.93 million people in fiscal 2017) putting unsustainable pressure on state finances.

Provider price caps in the commercial market are also part of the administration’s plans, according to officials, as a cost control measure designed to make insurance plans more affordable for employers and employees and to discourage avoidable enrollment in MassHealth.

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