Massachusetts remains a leader on the health care cost containment, price transparency, and market regulation fronts. In the 2017-2018 legislative term, Massachusetts legislation aimed primarily at health insurance rate equity, pharmaceutical company drug development cost transparency, free access to the state’s ACPD, and hospital market regulation. Massachusetts introduced several bills that seek to improve transparency and health care costs; however, most of them failed to pass.
2020 Legislative Session: 1/1/2020 - 1/5/2021 (2019-2020 term). *Current session bill updates are ongoing. Check back weekly for updates.
STATE BUDGETMassachusetts operates on an annual budget cycle. The fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30. The Governor is expected to sign the new budget at the end of June.
REGULATION & ENFORCEMENT
- State AG Conditional Approval of Beth Israel-Lahey Health Merger: In November 2018, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey gave her approval to the merger of Beth Israel and Lahey Health to create the second-largest healthcare system in the state. Healey imposed conditions on the merger through an assurance of discontinuance. The restrictions include over $70 million in community investments for low-income populations, as well as a seven-year price cap to ensure the merged entity’s price increases remain below the state’s annual healthcare cost growth benchmark of 3.1%. See The Source Blog for details.
- Rejected Consent Decree on Partners Healthcare Acquisition: In June 2014, former Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley reached a controversial consent decree with Partners Healthcare after five years of investigation and negotiation that would allow the provider to acquire three Boston hospitals. The proposed agreement received substantial criticism from antitrust experts and others who warned it would have anti-competitive effects. On Jan. 30, 2015, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Sanders declined to enter the consent judgment, after newly elected Attorney General Maura Healey filed a Notice of her office’s opposition of the deal. In declining to enter the judgment, Judge Sanders expressed concerns about the provider’s market power. In February 2015, Partners Healthcare abandoned its attempt to take over one of the Boston hospitals, South Shore Hospital. In December 2015, Partners also gave up on its bid to acquire a second Boston hospital, Hallmark Health System. See post on The Source Blog.
- Southcoast Hospitals Group sued a rival hospital chain Steward St. Anne’s and the state health agency in October 2015 in Suffolk County superior court, seeking to stop the competitor from opening a cardiac service and alleging that the move was made possible by the improper influence of a former health official. The case centers on a 2014 Mass. Dept. of Health Circular providing an exception for ACOs, allowing them to transfer licenses to provide cardiac care which were otherwise subject to a moratorium. Read the Boston Globe article and the complaint. The lawsuit was dismissed in March 2016.