Statement from Steve Walsh, president & CEO, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA), Regarding CHIA’s Annual Report on the Massachusetts Healthcare System

October 8, 2019
“Massachusetts’ Total Health Care Expenditures (THCE) per capita from 2017-2018 grew 3.1%, matching the benchmark set by the Health Policy Commission. Per capita healthcare spending growth in Massachusetts has consistently fallen below national per capita growth and the state has not exceeded its spending target since 2015.  This means that despite many ongoing challenges, Massachusetts continues to move in the right direction.  

However we continue to be concerned with the growth in prescription drug spending, which at 5.8% accounted for the majority of the state spending growth. Similarly, despite a 5.6% increase in private commercial member cost sharing, amounting to $55 per member per month, commercial health plan premiums still rose by 5.6%.  

For hospitals, the outpatient spending growth moderated from 5.1% in the prior year to 3.8% between 2017 and 2018.  This is major progress although we continue to strive to bring both inpatient and outpatient growth below the overall benchmark.  We look forward to working with CHIA, the HPC, and other healthcare stakeholders to examine the underlying reasons for the spending growth rate including factors beyond the control of hospitals, such as pharmaceutical and labor costs, an aging workforce, physician recruitment, and new technology. With the growing proportion of Massachusetts residents aged 65 and over and policy-driven efforts to move lower-acuity patients to outpatient settings, we also hope to better understand the impact posed by patients who are aging, sicker, and more complex.”