State panel studies why prices vary among hospitals

The commission has until March to release their final report and draft legislation

BOSTON (WWLP) – Health care is expensive, both for you and state government. Massachusetts spends billions on health care every year, and now state lawmakers are exploring ways to rein in costs. West Springfield state Senator Jim Welch is leading the Provider Price Commission that is studying why health care costs vary among hospitals.

Senator Welch (D-West Springfield) told 22News, “When you talk about pricing of health care and pricing of procedures, I think people are focused on what type of quality they are going to be provided when it comes to the consumers.”

The 23-member commission is made up of state lawmakers, medical leaders and insurance providers. Senator Welch led a discussion about why hospital prices differ and whether they are warranted.

The panel talked about how quality of care can play a role in pricing, as well as the location of the hospital and the population that is being served. Western Massachusetts, for example, has a larger share of Medicaid and Medicare patients which can impact cost.

“I’ve seen folks who are through the roof on quality, but yet their geographical area of the patients that live there are still not able to go there because of the type of insurance that they have,” said Tyrek Lee of 1199 SEIU.

The Provider Price Commission has until March to come up with final recommendations and to create legislation.

State lawmakers are considering whether to pass a law to control or regulate the cost of health care.