Baker no fan of hospital ballot question

Says he would like pricing issue handled on Beacon Hill

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER indicated on Monday that he opposes the union-backed ballot question resetting hospital rates, saying he hopes that measure could be dealt with outside the voting booth.

After a meeting with House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, Baker said the three officials have had some discussions about the ballot questions dealing with charter schools and hospital rate-setting. He said the hospital rate ballot question is complicated, involving a lot of data that is not well organized. He said it was possible something could be done to keep it off the ballot, but added that time was running short.

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Bruce Mohl

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About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Asked directly where he stands on the ballot question, Baker paused briefly, thinking, and then said: “That’s one I would rather see us figure out how to do something with administratively or legislatively as opposed to doing something on the ballot.”

The ballot question is being pushed by the Service Employees International Union as a way to help address a pricing gap between what teaching hospitals are paid for their services and what other hospitals receive. The question would scale back commercial insurance payments to the state’s two leading teaching hospitals — Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s – and redistribute some of that money to other hospitals around the state. Union officials estimate the ballot question could cost the two teaching hospitals nearly $440 million.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association opposes the ballot measure, while Steward Health Care, which does not belong to the association, supports it.