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Altman appointed to state health commission

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Section: Front Page, News

November 2, 2012

Governor Deval Patrick appointed Professor Stuart Altman (HS) to chair a new Massachusetts state board that will set health care spending goals and track health care providers’ success in reducing costs on Thursday.

The 11-member Health Policy Board was created to enforce a new health care reform law passed by Patrick. In August, Massachusetts became the first state to attempt to cap overall health care spending, both private and public, so that it cannot grow faster than the state economy. This law will take effect on Monday.

The savings as a result of this law are predicted to be as high as $200 billion over a 15-year period, according to the New York Times.

“Altman’s experience in matters of health policy in both the public and private sectors is deep and unparalleled and will be an asset to the Commonwealth in our work to drive health care costs down,” Patrick said in a press release. “I thank him for his willingness to serve.”

Altman is a health economist with four decades of health policy experience.
The commission, which replaces the Health Care Quality and Cost Council, will hold its first meeting on Nov. 16 after Patrick appoints the other members. Altman will quit his position as a board member at Tufts Medical Center and non-paying positions in the state, because Health Policy Board members are not allowed to work for hospitals, health plans or other healthcare organizations in Mass.

Altman told the Boston Globe that he accepted the role of chairman because he believes that this is a historic and unprecedented opportunity for Mass. Time and again, state and national efforts to manage health care costs have failed, he said.

“It works for awhile and then it blows up. Then health care spending starts growing at much faster rates,” he told The Globe. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we can make it work here in Massachusetts and that eventually we will be the model for the rest of the country, because no other state is even trying. The federal government isn’t trying. So, we’re all by ourselves.”

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