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Berwick releases health care policy proposal

Focuses on better care, better health, lower cost

BOSTON – At the first stop of his Innovating Massachusetts Tour, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick outlined his vision for health care in Massachusetts and released his campaign's health care policy proposal.  

Berwick noted that health care costs accounted for 23 percent of the state budget in 2000 and increased to 41 percent in 2013. If costs continue to rise at the current rate, more than half of the state budget will be devoted to health care by the end of the decade, diverting resources from other important state programs.

“If we want to invest in the future of our Commonwealth – in roads, in bridges, in schools, in protecting our environment, and in keeping our communities safe, we need to get health care costs under control,” said Berwick from the steps of the State House. “Containing the cost of care will give us the opportunity to invest in sorely needed programs to ensure that Massachusetts remains the best state in the nation to live and work."

Berwick centered his strategy on a strategy known as the Triple Aim, which strives for better health, better care, and lower costs – all at the same time. In order to achieve the Triple Aim, he will take the following steps:

  • On day one, he will convene a summit of all stakeholders to conduct a top to bottom review of Chapter 224 – the 2011 cost containment law – and develop an action plan to ensure it meets Triple Aim goals of better care, better health, and lower cost. If Chapter 224 results lag behind within 100 days of taking office, he will work with the Legislature to craft stronger legislation to ensure total transparency of health care system pricing transparency, payment changes, and care reorganization.
  • Seriously explore the possibility of a single payer system in Massachusetts. The complexity of our health care payment system adds costs, uncertainties, and hassles for everyone - patients, families, clinicians, and employers. He will work with the Legislature to assemble a multi-stakeholder Single Payer Advisory Panel to investigate and report back within one year on whether and how Massachusetts should consider a single payer option. 
  • Personally lead a statewide initiative to make Massachusetts the healthiest state in the nation, through smoking cessation, obesity prevention and reduction, and specific programs to curb domestic, sexual and physical violence. 
  • Stop the obesity epidemic in Massachusetts. Strengthen our state’s disease prevention and health improvement programs, with a special emphasis on innovations adopted from best practices from all over the world.
  • Assure that high-quality mental health care is more and more incorporated into the center of our health care system, in full parity with other components of care. We will reduce substance abuse and suicide rates by 50% in Massachusetts in the next decade.
  • Make Massachusetts the national leader in patient safety. Many of our hospitals have made progress toward safer care - reducing infections and complications in hospitals, reducing medication errors, and more.  This is the moment to bring patient safety to full scale in the Commonwealth, in every hospital and in every community.  Berwick will convene the stakeholders in Massachusetts health care and launch a five-year, comprehensive, collaborative, statewide project to bring the levels of injuries to patients due to errors in care to the lowest level in the nation.  

Berwick noted that his thirty years committed to improvement of health care systems in all 50 states uniquely qualify him to tackle the challenges we face with the increasing cost of care.

“Massachusetts was the first state to stand up and make health care a human right, and today almost 98% of adults and 99% of children have coverage,” said Berwick. “However, our system is the most expensive in the nation. Now is the time to get our health care costs under control. To do that, we need a Governor who understands how good care could be, what better payment systems look like, and how to reorganize care with patients at the center. That has been my work for 30 years, and I will bring that knowledge and experience to the Corner Office.”

Berwick’s full plan can be found at: