Lawmakers hear from public on health care cost containment bill

Committee will review public testimony on the bill and could make amendments

BOSTON (WWLP)—Lawmakers heard from the public on the Senate’s plan to reform the state’s health care system, including reducing costs and increasing quality and access.

More than 100 activists, residents and health care stakeholders came to the State House Monday for a hearing on the Senate’s health care cost containment bill. The legislation has taken more than a year to develop after lawmakers had conversations with other states and a series of round-table discussions.

Senator Jim Welch (D-West Springfield) led efforts to write the bill.

“My hope is that today, will yet be another opportunity for the public to weight in on the Senate approach to health care reform so that we can refine this legislation.”

The legislation includes various reforms to the state’s health care system, such as reducing prescription drug costs and implementing telemedicine, a technology that increases access to behavioral health services.

Supporters of the bill highlighted provisions, including protections for consumers who face surprise out-of-network bills, reducing hospital re-admissions and dental care reforms.

But some health care activists are concerned the proposal doesn’t go far enough in some areas.

“On the prescription drug provisions, we want to see them stronger and we want to see penalties for drug companies if they don’t provide the information that’s required,” Policy Director Brian Rosman of Health Care for All told 22News.

The committee will review public testimony on the bill and could make amendments. Lawmakers hope to have the legislation up for debate before the full Senate before mid-November.