The list of bills released last week by Democratic Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney and Republican Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano are the result of their work on the ad hoc Bipartisan Legislative Roundtable on Hospitals and Health Care.
Not much was made of the release of the proposed bills — perhaps because of last week’s blizzard distraction — or perhaps because dealing with the shortfalls in our health care delivery and payment system is just too plain “wonky.” The effort to address very real and current concerns is well worth noting.
The nine bills cover three basic areas.
SB 808 – To protect consumers from surprise medical bills.
SB 809 – To protect consumers from “exorbitant” facility fee charges.
SB 813 – To promote consumer-friendly transparency in health care quality and cost.
Promoting better coordination and accountability in the health care system:
SB 810 – To establish a commission on health care price variation and reform.
SB 814 – To promote development of accountable care collaboratives.
SB 812 – To establish a statewide electronic health information system.
SB 815 – To establish an independent entity to monitor health care market trends and set up cost growth benchmarks and accountability measures.
Adjusting the state’s oversight of hospital sales and consolidations:
SB 811 – To establish a consistent, fair process for hospital sale oversight.
SB 807 – To mitigate the anti-competitive effects of hospital consolidations and promote the use of low-cost, high quality health care providers.
Other related bills have also been put forward by legislators who sat on the Roundtable.
The bipartisan front presented by Looney and Fasano could signal a welcome depth of seriousness regarding our state’s evolving health care system and its impact on the quality and cost of our care.
We urge our state’s leaders to seize the moment and become active partners in determining the future shape of our state’s health care system.
Looney and Fasano are onto something. But we shouldn’t stop with these nine bills.
Let’s build a blueprint that defines what we all need and want from our health care system. Let’s not merely react to change in a short-term, piece-meal approach. Let’s get ahead of the change and refuse to leave the health and economic well-being of our state’s residents to chance.