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Patrick To Business: Cut Health Care Costs Aggressively, Let Government Play A Role

Gov. Deval Patrick. (Photo: Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs/flickr)

For the first time since lawmakers in the Massachusetts House and Senate unveiled separate plans to cut health care costs, Gov. Deval Patrick is weighing in.

At a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast this morning, Patrick told business leaders that the state should set aggressive spending targets, let government play a role in keeping insurance premiums down, and not necessarily create an entirely new agency to oversee the new reforms. In making his case for government oversight as a way to counter a not-always-reliable marketplace, Patrick put himself at odds with several elements of both the House and Senate plans.

“Industry can do better than the GSP [Gross State Product],” he said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks given to WBUR. “I certainly could not imagine accepting GSP plus anything…”

Here is Patrick’s entire speech, as prepared for delivery, from his office:

Thank you very much, Paul, and good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

As I think about the last couple of times we have been together at a Chamber breakfast, I realize I often come here to talk about health care. It makes some sense to do so in this company. Health care reform is one of the most important public-private initiatives in recent Massachusetts history. Many of you helped create and now help sustain it, and all of you deal with the challenge of rising insurance premiums. So you will understand if I return to the subject again this morning, especially given the developments of the past two weeks – and the past two years, for that matter.

We have a lot to be proud of when it comes to health care reform. We started with the belief that health is a public good and that everyone deserves access to affordable, quality care. That, for us, is a basic value, an expression of the kind of Commonwealth we want to live in, meaningful enough to motivate a broad coalition of legislators, policy makers, business and labor leaders and patient advocates in 2006 to reform the way we access health care.

And that reform is working. Here are the facts:

Almost everyone has access. 98.2 percent of our total population is insured. 99.8 percent of children. While the national trend between 2006 to 2010 was going in the other direction, we increased the number of insured in Massachusetts by more than 400,000 people.
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