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Episode 135: Dreyfus highlights Blue Cross experiments

Andrew Dreyfus, the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, is excited about a series of initiatives the state’s largest health insurer is pursuing to improve care while simultaneously treating patients in less costly settings.

One initiative, a pilot project with South Shore Hospital, rewards the facility if it succeeds in admitting fewer patients and doing fewer procedures. Dreyfus, appearing on the “Health or Consequences” Codcast with Paul Hattis, an associate professor at the Tufts University Medical School (co-host John McDonough of the Harvard Chan School of Public Health was on jury duty), said the goal of the pilot project is to reverse the incentives that currently reward hospitals for seeing more patients and doing more procedures.

Episode 134: Getting to yes on new education funding

State leaders appear to be serious about finally passing new legislation this year that would update the state’s education funding formula for K-12 schools. But exactly what would a new funding bill look like?

Tracy Novick of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and Liam Kerr of Democrats for Education Reform tackle that question on The Codcast. Their spirited conversation offers a preview of the debate that’s likely to unfold on Beacon Hill.

Episode 132: Transportation advocates list priorities

Three leading transportation advocates – Jim Aloisi of TransitMatters, Chris Dempsey of Transportation for Massachusetts, and Stacy Thompson of the Livable Streets Alliance – ring in the new year on The Codcast with a discussion about priorities.

One of the biggest is putting a price on transportation carbon and using the proceeds to invest in expanded transit options, cleaner vehicles, and climate resiliency. Massachusetts and eight other states plus the District of Columbia plan to spend the next year developing the initiative. Dempsey calls it a “really big deal,” largely because it will provide badly needed revenues that can be used by the participating states to bolster their transit systems and reduce emissions.

Episode 133: Rules reform battle in House not over

Two first-term legislators who tried unsuccessfully last week to change the way the speaker is selected say the fight for rules reform in the House is far from over.

Rep. Maria Robinson of Framingham and Rep. Patrick Kearney of Scituate said on the Codcast that a broader rules reform package is in the works, and one of their chief concerns is with the way rules are routinely suspended in the House.

Episode 131: A Transit Holiday Season

Jim Aloisi likes to write a holiday verse every year for CommonWealth, and this year he went all out. This year’s ditty is a clever take on linking the Red and Blue Lines. You can read/sing it yourself (to the tune of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) or you can listen to Aloisi and Chris Dempsey, the director of Transportation for Massachusetts, belt it out for you.

Enjoy, and have a happy holiday season!

Episode 130: For 2018, it’s a wrap

Republican Jenn Nassour and Democrat Jesse Mermell tee up a year-end conversation for the final 2018 installment of “Disagreeing Agreeably” on the Codcast. To help them, they brought in guests who lean left, political consultant Wilnelia Rivera, and right, Paul Craney of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.

Asked for a one-word description of politics for the year that was, their guests had starkly contrasting takes. For Craney, it was “boring,” as he pointed to the big statewide races that held little suspense. Rivera, who was a strategist on the campaign that delivered the year’s biggest upset, Ayanna Pressley’s Democratic primary victory over 20-year incumbent congressman Mike Capuano, stuck with the rule by declaring as her word “#disruptthenarrative.”

Episode 129: Sudders talks health care

What’s it like to be in charge of nearly half the state budget?

Extraordinarily humbling,” said Marylou Sudders. But don’t confuse humbling with cautious indecision or lack of tenacity.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s health and human services secretary has a reputation for strong leadership and a social worker’s commitment to the enormous range of state programs she oversees, led by the Medicaid program that delivers health care coverage to 1.8 million state residents. Sudders said she is on board for a second Baker term, and highlighted some of the priorities she’ll focus on, including another stab at reining in Medicaid drug costs, an initiative to preserve access to community hospitals, and continued work to ensure access to mental health services.

Sudders said the state has built up a lot of protections against any rollback of the Affordable Care Act, but called herself a “worrier” who nonetheless closely tracks developments outside the state — prescient words on Friday afternoon, only hours before a federal judge in Texas struck down the entire federal law.

Sudders touched on those topics and more in the inaugural episode of “Health and Consequences,” a new health policy-focused entry to the Codcast line-up being helmed by John McDonough, a one-time Massachusetts legislator who now teaches at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, and Paul Hattis of Tufts University’s School of Medicine.“

Episode 128: ‘Beat the Press’ celebrates 20 years

Emily Rooney, who is celebrating her 20th year hosting Beat the Press on WGBH, says the biggest change she’s witnessed over that time period has been in the news-gathering business itself.

In television, the network and local news shows have narrowed their focus and range. Locally, she says, the focus increasingly is on traffic, weather, and “two-bit crime coverage. Anchors, once known by their first names, are now barely known at all.”

“Everything looks exactly the same and they’ve got these fungible anchors that all look the same,” she says on The Codcast.

Episode 127: Aiello on the state of the T, new revenues

The head of the MBTA’s oversight board says the hoped-for transformation of the transit agency has a long way to go yet.

“We’re still at the very beginning,” says Joseph Aiello, the chair of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board. He says the collapse of the T during the winter of 2015 exposed the sorry state of the agency. “We were probably in as dark a hole as you can possibly be in,” he says.

But Aiello is not all gloom and doom. He says the agency is moving ahead with an overhaul of the Red and Orange lines that will double their capacity and committing to an annual maintenance schedule that will prevent the sort of deterioration of service that occurred the last time the two lines were upgraded. “We’ve got a pretty radical transformation going on,” he says.

Episode 126: Pushed out of Roxbury

Some people may have been taken aback by the overflow crowd of 350 people who showed up earlier this month for a Boston City Council hearing in Roxbury to hear concerns about displacement. Kim Janey was not one of them.

“I was not surprised at all,” said Janey, the district city councilor who represents Roxbury along with parts of Dorchester, the South End, and the Fenway.

Janey, who sponsored the November 13 hearing, said concerns about displacement have reached a fever pitch in Roxbury, where housing costs shot up by 70 percent from 2010 to 2015, twice the rate of the overall citywide appreciation of 36 percent during that period. “People are feeling the heat,” she said on this week’s Codcast. “People are being pushed out of our neighborhood. And so we need to come up with creative solutions to keep residents who want to be in Roxbury in Roxbury.”

Exacerbating the problem, said Janey, is the city’s enormous racial wealth gap, which has left blacks disproportionately vulnerable to displacement. She said 81 percent of the households in her district are renters, a much higher figure than the citywide rate.

The displacement and gentrification story is certainly not a new one. What’s playing out now in areas of Roxbury looks similar to the changes that overtook the South End a few decades ago.