State Representative Frank A. Moran (D – Lawrence) testified before the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing in support of his bill H.1299, An Act to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities through commercial rate equity for safety-net hospitals.
This legislation requires commercial health plans, within their existing budgets, to prioritize paying vital Medicaid safety net hospitals the statewide average relative price. It requires that carriers annually certify and provide evidence to the Department of Insurance that each high Medicaid safety net acute hospital’s rate meets a minimum threshold of the carrier’s statewide average commercial relative price
Safety net hospitals, such as Lawrence General Hospital, are the predominant healthcare providers for vulnerable populations and play a vital role in both ongoing healthcare and the local COVID-19 response. These hospitals are among the lowest paid in the Commonwealth and having fewer resources than their peers impacts their capacity to respond to a pandemic and further underscores that adequate resources save lives.
“Lawrence General Hospital serves one of the state’s most economically disadvantaged communities and provides extraordinary, personalized medical care to some of our regions’ most vulnerable residents,” said State Representative Frank A. Moran. “Hospitals such as Lawrence General were one of the last lines of defense for many communities throughout the entirety of the pandemic and it is of the utmost importance that we provide these institutions with the resources necessary to continue providing life-saving services without going deeper into financial hardship.”
“The long history of low commercial insurance rates, and statewide cost containment has created a structural deficit between what it costs to deliver care and what we are paid,” said Deb Wilson, President & CEO of Lawrence General Hospital. “This gap in payment threatens access to services for people of color and the whole region who depend on safety net providers like Lawrence General.”
H.1299 will address the underlying disparities that have long existed within our state’s health care system based on race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status by ensuring that equitable rates by commercial health insurance plans no longer contribute to the disparity in resources that safety-net hospitals have long faced.