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Summing Up The Cost Trend Hearings

Acting Commissioner Seena Perumal Carrington (photo: Division of Health Care Finance and Policy)

We asked Seena Perumal Carrington, acting commissioner of the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, to sum up this week’s cost trend hearings which concluded yesterday with no clear-cut solution (no one expected that in a week) but some consensus in key areas (like government intervention to deal with price disparities). Here, slightly condensed, is what Carrington sent over:

The state’s annual cost trends hearings are to discuss various perspectives on the drivers behind escalating health care costs, and to determine what can be done to mitigate cost growth through public policy and industry actions.

The 2011 hearings were intended to examine progress made to-date by existing public and private efforts and unearth actionable solutions within the framework of four topical categories:

–Variation of provider prices
–Alternate payment methodologies
–Health resource planning
–Integration and care coordination

Additionally, the 2011 hearings concluded with a discussion of the roles of government and the private market in reducing health care costs.

In the first panel, there was near universal agreement that the extent of price variation reflects an unhealthy imbalance in the health care marketplace that merits immediate government intervention. This conversation (especially around the specific type of intervention needed) will continue in the recently convened Special Commission on Provider Price Reform. Continue reading