Deval Patrick signs bill to cap health care price increases

In an effort to control healthcare costs, Governor Deval Patrick filed a 40-page bill proposing to give the insurance commissioner the power to cap health care price increases.

 The Boston Globe reports that the bill would allow rates that hospitals, physician group practices, and insurers charge to be “presumptively disapproved as excessive” if they increased faster than the level of medical inflation, and they could be rejected after a public hearing. 

The bill also addresses increasing health care costs at small businesses.  For health insurance plans sold to companies with 50 or fewer employees, premium increases that exceed one and a half times the level of medical inflation would be considered excessive.

In the 1970’s, Massachusetts attempted to regulate health costs in a similar way, and achieved some results. The effort eventually fizzled due to the complexity of it. 

(SOURCES: The Boston Globe, http://boston.com, February 11, 2010, The Boston Globe, http://boston.com, February 12, 2010)