CommonWealth Magazine

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DR. ERIC DICKSON, the CEO of UMass Memorial Well being Care and the chair of the board of the Massachusetts Well being and Hospital Affiliation, says the well being care inequities which have surfaced in the course of the coronavirus pandemic may be addressed via insurance policies that assist hospitals like his that cater to a few of the poorest folks within the state.

On The Codcast with John McDonough of the T.H. Chan Faculty of Public Well being at Harvard and Paul Hattis, previously of Tufts College Medical Faculty, Dickson outlined three key insurance policies to enhance well being care fairness – cease the growth of Mass Basic Brigham into Westborough, Westwood, and Woburn; increase Medicaid fee charges; and make Medicare accessible to extra folks by steadily decreasing the age of eligibility. 

All three insurance policies focus on the best way hospital care is paid for, with Medicaid, the federal government insurance coverage program for the poor and aged, paying decrease charges than business well being insurers. The disparity in fee charges means hospitals that cater to the poor rely extra on Medicaid funding and may solely survive if they’re cross-subsidized by increased funds from business insurers.

As it’s, UMass Memorial is simply breaking even, Dickson mentioned. “We are able to hold the lights on however having {dollars} to spend money on new buildings and applied sciences, that comes actually arduous to us,” he mentioned. 

Dickson mentioned Mass Basic Brigham’s plan to open ambulatory care facilities in Westborough, Westwood, and Woburn threatens that monetary balancing act. He’s urging the Division of Public Well being to dam these growth plans, fearing that Mass Basic Brigham will cherry-pick business insurance coverage clients in these communities, taking cash away from hospitals like his that depend on that funding.

“In the event you let the most costly, largest well being care system within the state increase to one of many wealthiest areas of the state and neighborhoods of the state, we simply all need to go in eyes huge open and say, boy, that’s going to have a destructive impact on the well being care techniques that had been cross-subsidizing their care earlier than, and in Westborough that’s us,” Dickson mentioned.

Dickson additionally desires to see Medicaid charges elevated, and he says one of the simplest ways to try this is to impose a tax on well being suppliers that look after a higher proportion of sufferers with business insurance coverage. The tax income may very well be used to buttress Medicaid charges, which well being care suppliers that cater to the poor depend on.

The monetary impression on the state could be minimized as a result of Medicaid prices are cut up between the state and federal authorities, so a big chunk of the rise could be paid for by the federal authorities. “You will get there with virtually no impression on state coffers,” Dickson mentioned. 

Dickson is a fan of Medicare for All, a single-payer well being care system. He believes Medicare for All would eliminate the complicated gyrations well being care techniques undergo to outlive right this moment and wring lots of waste and inefficiency out of the system. He mentioned companies would possibly see their well being care prices drop 20 %. 

Meet the Creator

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth journal. Bruce got here to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, the place he spent practically 30 years in all kinds of positions protecting enterprise and politics. He lined the Massachusetts State Home and served because the Globe’s State Home bureau chief within the late Nineteen Eighties. He additionally reported for the Globe’s Highlight Crew, successful a Loeb award in 1992 for protection of conflicts of curiosity within the state’s pension system. He served because the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cowl shopper points for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the journal’s web site and has written about a variety of points with a particular give attention to politics, tax coverage, vitality, and playing. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan College and the Fletcher Faculty of Regulation and Diplomacy at Tufts College. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth journal. Bruce got here to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, the place he spent practically 30 years in all kinds of positions protecting enterprise and politics. He lined the Massachusetts State Home and served because the Globe’s State Home bureau chief within the late Nineteen Eighties. He additionally reported for the Globe’s Highlight Crew, successful a Loeb award in 1992 for protection of conflicts of curiosity within the state’s pension system. He served because the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cowl shopper points for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the journal’s web site and has written about a variety of points with a particular give attention to politics, tax coverage, vitality, and playing. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan College and the Fletcher Faculty of Regulation and Diplomacy at Tufts College. He lives in Dorchester.

However he additionally acknowledges that, politically, Medicare for All is a giant political carry. So he’s recommending that the nation transfer slowly towards that purpose by lowering the age of eligibility for Medicare over time, permitting the system to adapt steadily. With out motion, he says, the system won’t survive.

“It’s unsustainable. One thing goes to occur,” he mentioned. “And then you definitely begin to speak about fairness. Can we actually really feel snug dwelling in a society the place ladies of shade are getting mammography at a price half that of Caucasian ladies? Getting recognized for most cancers later as a result of they don’t have the fundamental well being care? … You need to be part of that society?”

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