DeLeo, Rosenberg on same health care page

Speaker calls pace of MassHealth spending unsustainable

HOUSE SPEAKER ROBERT DELEO signaled on Tuesday that he and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg are on the same page when it comes to passing health care reform legislation.

Rosenberg told the Health Policy Commission on Monday that spending on MassHealth was rising way too fast and crowding out other funding needs. DeLeo told the commission on Tuesday that the pace of MassHealth spending was “unsustainable.”

Rosenberg said the Senate will vote on its health care bill before Thanksgiving and then send it to the House. DeLeo said he was okay with that timetable and indicated the House would probably report out a bill next year.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

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.

Rosenberg said the Senate bill would draw from proposals put forth by the governor, a commission charged with addressing pricing disparity among hospitals, and the Senate’s own research. DeLeo said he would follow the same playbook, although he was a bit more specific about what he wanted to see in a House bill.

The speaker said the House is focused on consumer information and engagement, particularly around pharmaceutical spending. He also said the House was likely to adopt some recommendations of a commission that studied price variation among hospitals, including proposals dealing with out-of-network and surprise billing. He said the House legislation would promote telemedicine and adopt some of the proposals put forth at the end of the last legislative session by Gov. Charlie Baker. Without being specific, DeLeo said some of Baker’s proposals need more work and others are not tenable.

The speaker made clear winning approval of a health care bill in the Legislature won’t be easy. “We have two obligations here,” he told reporters. “The concern is that the most vulnerable citizens among us are not burdened as a result of whatever plan we come up with. On the other hand, Massachusetts is known for having the finest medical institutions in the country, if not the world. The other concern I have is that some of the wonderful research and development that’s going on at our fine institutions is not hindered as well. That’s what makes getting to a proper answer so difficult. …Add in the uncertainty in Washington, and it makes it a very, very difficult process to try to put it together.”