Section 8: Public hearings; witnesses; annual report
Section 8. (a) Not later than October 1 of every year, the commission shall hold public hearings based on the report submitted by the center for health information and analysis under section 16 of chapter 12C comparing the growth in total health care expenditures to the health care cost growth benchmark for the previous calendar year. The hearings shall examine health care provider, provider organization and private and public health care payer costs, prices and cost trends, with particular attention to factors that contribute to cost growth within the commonwealth's health care system.
(b) The attorney general may intervene in such hearings.
(c) Public notice of any hearing shall be provided at least 60 days in advance.
(d) The commission shall identify as witnesses for the public hearing a representative sample of providers, provider organizations, payers and others, including: (i) at least 3 academic medical centers, including the 2 acute hospitals with the highest level of net patient service revenue; (ii) at least 3 disproportionate share hospitals, including the 2 hospitals whose largest per cent of gross patient service revenue is attributable to Title XVIII and XIX of the federal Social Security Act or other governmental payers; (iii) community hospitals from at least 3 separate regions of the commonwealth; (iv) freestanding ambulatory surgical centers from at least 3 separate regions of the commonwealth; (v) community health centers from at least 3 separate regions of the commonwealth; (vi) the 5 private health care payers with the highest enrollments in the commonwealth; (vii) any managed care organization that provides health benefits under Title XIX; (viii) the group insurance commission; (ix) at least 3 municipalities that have adopted chapter 32B; (x) at least 4 provider organizations, at least 2 of which shall be certified as accountable care organizations, 1 of which has been certified as a model ACO, which shall be from diverse geographic regions of the commonwealth; and (xi) any witness identified by the attorney general or the center.
(e) Witnesses shall provide testimony under oath and subject to examination and cross examination by the commission, the executive director of the center and the attorney general at the public hearing in a manner and form to be determined by the commission, including, but not limited to: (i) in the case of providers and provider organizations, testimony concerning payment systems, care delivery models, payer mix, cost structures, administrative and labor costs, capital and technology cost, adequacy of public payer reimbursement levels, reserve levels, utilization trends, relative price, quality improvement and care-coordination strategies, investments in health information technology, the relation of private payer reimbursement levels to public payer reimbursements for similar services, efforts to improve the efficiency of the delivery system, efforts to reduce the inappropriate or duplicative use of technology and the impact of price transparency on prices; and (ii) in the case of private and public payers, testimony concerning factors underlying premium cost and rate increases, the relation of reserves to premium costs, efforts by the payer to reduce the use of fee-for-service payment mechanisms, the payer's efforts to develop benefit design, network design and payment policies that enhance product affordability and encourage efficient use of health resources and technology including utilization of alternative payment methodologies, efforts by the payer to increase consumer access to health care information, efforts by the payer to promote the standardization of administrative practices, the impact of price transparency on prices and any other matters as determined by the commission. The commission shall solicit testimony from any payer which has been identified by the center's annual report under subsection (a) of section 16 of chapter 12C as (1) paying providers more than 10 per cent above or more than 10 per cent below the average relative price or (2) entering into alternative payment contracts that vary by more than 10 per cent. Any payer identified by the center's report shall explain the extent of price variation between the payer's participating providers and describe any efforts to reduce such price variation.
(f) In the event that the center's annual report under subsection (a) of section 16 of chapter 12C finds that the percentage change in total health care expenditures exceeded the health care cost benchmark in the previous calendar year, the commission may identify additional witnesses for the public hearing. Witnesses shall provide testimony subject to examination and cross examination by the commission, the executive director of the center and attorney general at the public hearing in a manner and form to be determined by the commission, including, but not limited to: (i) testimony concerning unanticipated events that may have impacted the total health care cost expenditures, including, but not limited to, a public health crisis such as an outbreak of a disease, a public safety event or a natural disaster; (ii) testimony concerning trends in patient acuity, complexity or utilization of services; (iii) testimony concerning trends in input cost structures, including, but not limited to, the introduction of new pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other health technologies; (iv) testimony concerning the cost of providing certain specialty services, including, but not limited to, the provision of health care to children, cancer-related health care and medical education; (v) testimony related to unanticipated administrative costs for carriers, including, but not limited to, costs related to information technology, administrative simplification efforts, labor costs and transparency efforts; (vi) testimony related to costs due the implementation of state or federal legislation or government regulation; and (vii) any other factors that may have led to excessive health care cost growth.
(g) The commission shall compile an annual report concerning spending trends and underlying factors, along with any recommendations for strategies to increase the efficiency of the health care system. The report shall be based on the commission's analysis of information provided at the hearings by providers, provider organizations and insurers, registration data collected under section 11, data collected by the center for health information and analysis under sections 8, 9 and 10 of chapter 12C and any other information the commission considers necessary to fulfill its duties under this section, as further defined in regulations promulgated by the commission. The report shall be submitted to the chairs of the house and senate committees on ways and means and the chairs of the joint committee on health care financing and shall be published and available to the public not later than December 31 of each year. The report shall include any legislative language necessary to implement the recommendations.