Jon Hurst, President of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, is understandably frustrated by the large increases in health insurance premiums that his organization and other small businesses are receiving from health plans. It is important to note, however, that hospitals are reimbursed the same amount by the health plan regardless of whether the patient works for a small mom and pop business or a large employer. Hospitals must accept ownership for the cost issues under their control, but the significant differential between small and large group premiums is due to the way the health plans calculate those premiums and is not caused by what the providers charge.
Unfortunately the Boston Globe chose to run an inaccurate and incomplete story today entitled "Executives snub hearing on rising health care costs" (January 8, 2010). The article incorrectly and unfairly characterizes Massachusetts hospitals' intentions and participation in the hearings called by the state's Division of Insurance.
Our hospitals are absolutely committed to being part of this process and participating in the hearings. Many hospitals were unable to attend in person due to the short notice, scheduling conflicts, and lack of time to prepare answers to questions that were not received until New Year's Eve when the first hearing date was January 7. MHA had informed DOI that hospitals had virtually no time to prepare for the hearings given the short notice on the questions and the holiday schedule, and had asked for the questions to be sent out earlier.
DOI was unable to accommodate other testimony times, and so many hospitals are submitting written testimony by the January 15 deadline, in order to participate in the process, answer the Patrick Administration's questions and to personally help find achievable and lasting solutions to the challenges of escalating healthcare costs. MHA is also testifying at the hearings, on behalf of all our member hospitals but especially for those who would otherwise be unable to give their input under DOI's deadline.
The Globe spoke with MHA staff about this, and knew the details of the short deadlines and scheduling difficulties. They also spoke with several of our members. Yet the paper chose to publish a non-story, affix an incendiary and inaccurate headline and run with it anyway.
In contrast, health insurance industry leaders attended similar DOI hearings but stonewalled on key questions. Who's doing the "snubbing" here?