Reform Bill Agreement Stalls at Final Hour of Session

The legislative effort to get Massachusetts community hospitals some much-needed financial relief failed last week as the House and Senate were unable to reach compromise on two similar but ultimately irreconcilable healthcare reform bills before the legislative session ended July 31.

The funding proposals in the bills were bitterly opposed by the health insurance industry and others.

Failure to pass a reform bill means that subsidiary parts of the bills that both sides agreed upon also went down to defeat. Among the initiatives in the bill that hospitals supported in the bill were efforts to advance and expand telemedicine in Massachusetts; to expand the scope of practice for dental therapists and advance practice registered nurses; and to bring more transparency to pharmaceutical pricing.

“It is unfortunate that a final deal could not be struck,” said MHA President & CEO Steve Walsh. “However, the legislative calendar will not stop our member hospitals, both community and teaching, from being excellent caregivers, employers, and neighbors to all that they serve.  While this is a temporary policy setback, we are thankful to have thoughtful and committed legislative leaders who will not stop working to develop comprehensive solutions to the most complex healthcare challenges.  To best protect patients across the commonwealth, it is imperative that we stabilize our high-value community providers and ensure their long-term viability. Although a resolution was not reached, we know for certain by the efforts of both the House and Senate that they share this common goal and we look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts.”