MHA Joins in Denouncing ACA Repeal

MHA Joins Sen. Markey, Other Healthcare Leaders to Denounce ACA Repeal Legislation

MHA President & CEO Lynn Nicholas, FACHE, joined Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), MHA member Patrick Wardell, MBA, CEO of Cambridge Health Alliance, other healthcare leaders, advocates and concerned patients to discuss their strong opposition to efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) and replace it with legislation that would make drastic cuts to the Medicaid program and end health coverage for millions of Americans.

“The legislative changes now being considered in Congress would dismantle the most important elements of Obamacare that are in fact working as intended and working well,” said Nicholas. “Our state’s hospitals urge the U.S. Senate to remember what is at stake and to vote against any legislation that would undermine the ability of hospitals to continue our lifesaving and compassionate work.”

Markey criticized the GOP House healthcare bill that passed last month for, among other things, its massive cuts to Medicaid and health insurance coverage. He decried the fact that Senate Republicans are crafting separate ACA repeal legislation behind closed doors, with no planned hearings, public debate or amendments.

“Republicans may try to hide this bill because they know how bad it is and unpopular it will be, but we must cut through that secrecy and demand transparency,” said Senator Markey.

The event was held at Cambridge Health Alliance, and also included remarks by Brian Rosman, Director of Policy and Government Relations, Health Care For All; Richard Odom, member of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council and MassHealth recipient; and Don Summerfield and Dianna Hu, Boston Center for Independent Living.

Governor Baker Issues MassHealth Budget Proposal

Governor Charlie Baker announced a “MassHealth Reform Package” Tuesday that includes revenues and savings totaling $314.6 million. The governor shared the proposal with the legislature in hopes that it will be included in the final FY2018 state budget proposal.

A summary of the proposal was released by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and Administration & Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore sent a letter detailing the proposal to the Joint Ways & Means Committee co-chairs.

The package does not include the commercial market restrictions previously sought by the governor such as price growth caps and caps on payments from Group Insurance Commission (GIC) plans.

“The budget proposal from Governor Baker offers many thoughtful ideas for consideration to address the FY2018 budget and MassHealth program over the long-term,” said MHA president & CEO Lynn Nicholas, FACHE. “MHA appreciates the Baker Administration’s efforts to address the financial challenges facing the state while recognizing the concerns of all healthcare stakeholders and the vital social and economic contributions of Massachusetts hospitals, health systems and other care providers.”

Nicholas continued “MHA and our members look forward to continued work with the administration, legislature and others to find a consensus path to address the Medicaid challenges facing the state and ensure fair and adequate funding for FY2018 and beyond that meets the critical needs of all parties. Furthermore, we remain committed to continuing our efforts to provide even greater value, making healthcare more effective and affordable.”

Communications Kudos for MHA and Members

MHA was honored, along with a number of our hospitals and health system members, at this year's annual New England Society of Healthcare Communications (NESHCo) Lamplighter Awards Gala, which recognizes excellence within communications and marketing across the region. This year, MHA won eight awards, including three golds for its work to produce the State of the State: Reducing Readmissions in Massachusetts report, the re-brand of MHA Solutions and a post-election issue of President’s Perspective for its poignant and important content.  MHA CEO and President Lynn Nicholas, FACHE, commented, “The content is as timely and true today as it was needed then. The mission of hospitals remains blind to race, religion or background and is always focused on the care of each patient. MHA was honored to be acknowledged and all the awards speak to a team effort among our staff and so many of our members who were also honored for their exceptional work in this area.”

Strong Support for Health Equity

On Tuesday, MHA joined a diverse coalition of community advocates, health care professionals and public officials before the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing in a show of support for legislation that seeks to address racial and ethnic health disparities by establishing a state Office of Health Equity.
The bill, sponsored by the House Chair of the Committee on Health Care Financing, Representative Jeffrey Sánchez (D-Boston), would statutorily task the state’s Office of Health Equity with: coordinating the various state policies to address health disparities; evaluating the effectiveness of policies; and setting state goals and reporting annually on progress made towards reducing health disparities in the commonwealth.
“Even with all of our successes in healthcare reform, focused on access, affordability and quality, there remain pervasive and persistent racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare status and outcomes,” Sánchez said in testimony before the Committee.
Studies have shown that socio-economic, behavioral, and environmental factors account for 80% of overall health status. Social factors, such as income, housing, and education are the greatest determinants of individual health. 
“While we have made some progress with initiatives to address these factors, these efforts tend to lack coordination and long-term planning. A dedicated Office of Health Equity can provide a framework for coordinating these existing programs and optimize our efforts across multiple agencies,” Sánchez explained.

In November 2015, the MHA Board of Trustees endorsed the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Equity of Care Campaign – called the “#123forEquity Pledge to Eliminate Health Care Disparities.” This campaign focuses on increasing three equity aims: 1) the collection and use of race, ethnicity and language preference data; 2) increasing cultural competency training; and 3) increasing diversity in governance and leadership. As healthcare providers shift towards integrated care and value-based payment, their ability to identify, measure, and reduce variations will be critical to the health and longevity of our organizations.

Forty Massachusetts hospitals and health systems have signed the #123forEquity Pledge to Eliminate Health Care Disparities. By taking the pledge, hospital leaders publicly commit to take action to achieve the three equity aims, provide updates on progress to the AHA and their Boards, and share their success in promoting diversity and health equity with the public.  The Sanchez legislation would complement these hospital efforts.

MHA Webinar On CHIA's Consumer Healthcare Transparency Website

MHA is hosting an educational webinar for MHA and MA Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors members on Tuesday, June 20th from noon to 1:00 pm regarding the Center for Healthcare Information and Analysis (CHIA)’s consumer healthcare transparency website.  The site, which is now in development. will publish provider price, quality and safety information relating to certain procedures.
CHIA is working toward a fall 2017 launch date for the "Phase 1" site, which will contain information about a defined set of medical procedures. CHIA has partnered with the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety (BLC) in developing the website's information on care quality.

The webinar will include overviews of:
The purpose of the healthcare transparency website
The process through which CHIA is developing the site
Key components of the site (cost, quality/safety, consumer decision aids)
Principles guiding the selection of quality and safety measures
Messaging that is being developed to help consumers understand how to use the site—and what can and can’t be understood from cost and quality data alone

Staff from CHIA and the BLC will also provide an overview of the multi-phase project and answer questions. For further information, please contact Debbie Ryan, MHA Senior Administrative Assistant and Project Coordinator at dryan@mhalink.org.

MassHealth HQAC Update

In a recent presentation to the Hospital Quality Advisory Committee (HQAC), MassHealth recently proposed new reporting measures as part of its acute hospital Pay-for-Performance (P4P) program, including three substance use disorder measures. MHA submitted feedback to MassHealth based on member input regarding the proposed changes for 2018. The association also requested that MassHealth discuss with hospitals how the upcoming MassHealth ACO program will affect the hospital quality program.


The CEO of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Joanne Conroy, MD,  is heading to New Hampshire to become the new president and CEO of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System. She is expected to begin her new position later this summer.

Conroy, a former anesthesiologist and Dartmouth College graduate, has been at the helm of the Burlington-based Lahey facility for three years. She oversaw the hospital’s transition to a new electronic records system.

Howard Grant, JD, MD, president & CEO of Lahey Health System, the hospital’s parent company, will resume leadership of the hospital. Grant previously served in a similar dual role from May 2012 to July 2014.

19th Annual Emergency Medicine Conference
Friday, July 14, 8:30 A.M. to 3 P.M.
MHA Conference Center, Burlington, Mass.

Today, hospital emergency departments see more and more patients who pose treatment challenges, including substance use and behavioral health. Often the presenting issues are extreme and require deep expertise. To best face this demand, it’s critical for frontline hospital ED staff and clinicians to have the necessary skills and practices to triage and treat patients, and eliminate boarding of psychiatric patients. This program will provide information on some of the more challenging types of cases that hospital personnel face and give them guidance to help them streamline their approaches to care.  Visit here for more information.

John LoDico, Editor