Lawmakers develop strategies to contain health care costs

Health care spending makes up 40 percent of the state budget

BOSTON (WWLP) – Lawmakers are speaking with health care providers and experts to find out what is driving up health care cost, a budget buster that consumes about 40 percent of annual state spending.

A group of senators held a round table discussion with health care providers, experts and business groups at the State House Wednesday, on chronic and acute care management.

“Ensure that people are getting the right care at the right time, in the right setting, and if we do that and continue to do that and work towards those goals, we’ll continue to lower costs here in Massachusetts,” said State Senator Jim Welch (D-West Springfield).

One of the major health care cost drivers brought up during discussions was emergency room visits.

President and CEO Christopher Palmieri of Commonwealth Care Alliance told 22News the state could help cut costs by bringing emergency services directly to your home.

The community-based health care organization ran a pilot program bringing paramedics to 1,600 customers in Boston and they hope to expand it statewide.

Palmieri told 22News 87 percent of the time residents were able to avoid a trip to the emergency room by having paramedics treat them in their own home.

“We believe that the costs of getting the emergency medical professionals educated and trained is relatively low against the benefit of preventing admissions to the hospital or trips to the emergency room,” Palmieri said.

Senators plan to take the information they’ve learned from the discussions and develop health care cost control legislation.