Gov. Baker Says Question 1 Will Harm Massachusetts Healthcare

Governor Charlie Baker has announced that he will vote NO on Question 1, saying his decision was based on the Health Policy Commission report of the ballot question’s nearly $1 billion annual cost, as well as his discussions with healthcare community members who said Question 1 threatened their very existence.

“I had heard from many of my colleagues in the community healthcare space that many community hospitals and some nursing homes, and even some rehab hospitals would have their operational future put in jeopardy if this law passed – and many of those community hospitals are critical care access provider in their districts,” Baker said.

Baker is running for re-election against Democrat Jay Gonzalez, who was Governor Deval Patrick’s budget chief and most recently served as president & CEO of CeltiCare Health. Governor Baker also has strong healthcare credentials; he served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under Governor William Weld and as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

The HPC initially found that Question 1 would cost up to $950 million annually, but noted that this is conservative as it does not include the cost of implementation in the emergency department, outpatient, and observation units. The $950 million also does not include the cost of acuity tool implementation, turnover costs, and the cost to non-acute facilities, which when totaled would increase Question 1’s cost to well over $1 billion annually.

Speaking of his discussions with providers, Baker said, “The one I visited most recently was Harrington [Hospital] in Southbridge. They are the community-based provider, the emergency service provider, the mental health provider, substance use disorder provider, primary care provider in about 40 communities in Central and Western Massachusetts. And they said to me that they would have a heck of a time, and that they did not believe they could implement the law if it were to pass as written. That set off a bit of an alarm bell for me. So I’m going to vote No on Question 1.”