Patrick administration names health quality committee

The Patrick administration is ramping up efforts to change how health care is paid for in Massachusetts, pushing for a system that rewards hospitals and doctors that lower cost and improve quality of care for patients.

Measuring health care quality is a difficult task. The administration today announced the names of the seven appointees who will take on this job.

“This is an important step in the next phase of health care reform in Massachusetts,” Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. JudyAnn Bigby said in a press release. “By examining the standards by which health care quality will be uniformly measured, we can do a much better job of understanding the value of care we are purchasing.”

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Among other tasks, the committee is charged with creating a set of health care quality benchmarks that could be used in awarding payments to hospitals that treat large numbers of poor patients in the state. Bigby announced last month that up to six hospitals in the state will be moved toward a payment system that rewards them for improving quality of care while lowering costs.

The quality measures likely will be used to determine how hospitals and doctors will be categorized in newer tiered health plans. The plans rank providers based on cost and quality measures and assign patient co-payments according to a tiered system.

The committee was created by the Legislature in 2010 and will meet for the first time on January 25. It will be chaired by Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach and Áron Boros, commissioner of the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy. Other members are:

  • Dolores Mitchell, executive director of the Group Insurance Commission (ex-officio)
  • Dr. Julian Harris, MassHealth director (ex-officio)
  • Dianne Anderson, president and chief executive of Lawrence General Hospital
  • Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts
  • Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of Health Care for All
  • Dr. James Feldman, of the Massachusetts Medical Society and an emergency physician at Boston University Medical Center
  • Dr. Richard Lopez, chief physician executive at Atrius Health