Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to immediately provide for the postponement of certain unemployment health insurance contributions in the commonwealth, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. Section 19 of chapter 118F of the General Laws, as appearing in the 1992 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out, in lines 3 and 4, the word "ninety-five" and inserting in place thereof the following word:- ninety-six.
SECTION 2. Said section 19 of said chapter 118F, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out, in lines 62 and 66, the word "ninety-five", each time it appears, and inserting in place thereof, in each instance, the following word:- ninety-six.
SECTION 3. Section 79 of chapter 23 of the acts of 1988 is hereby amended by striking out the word "ninety-five", inserted by section 222 of chapter 138 of the acts of 1991, and inserting in place thereof the following word:- ninety-six.
SECTION 4. There is hereby established a special commission for the purpose of making an investigation and study of methods for achieving universal health care coverage for residents of the commonwealth. Said commission shall consist of three members of the senate; four members of the house of representatives; the secretary of the executive office of health and human services or his designee; the commissioner of the division of insurance or his designee; and six members to be appointed by the governor. Of the six members appointed by the governor, two shall be consumers representing diverse cultural backgrounds and geographic regions, three shall be members of the business community who represent different size employers and geographic regions, and one shall be nominated by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.
Said commission shall be cochaired by a member of the house of representatives and a member of the senate to be elected by the members of the commission. The commission shall adopt such rules and establish such procedures as it considers necessary for the conduct of its business. The commission may expend such funds as may be appropriated or made available therefor. No action of the commission shall be considered official unless approved by a majority vote of the commission.
The commission shall have the following responsibilities and duties:
(a) to design a plan to provide access to and coverage for health care to all residents of the commonwealth. In discussing alternatives for achieving universal coverage the commission shall investigate a variety of issues including, but not limited to: (i) employer and individual responsibility to purchase insurance, including incentives to ensure that employers continue to provide insurance coverage; (ii) health coverage financing through broad-based revenue sources such as income, payroll, sales and provider taxes; (iii) government programs that subsidize low-income families and low-wage employers for whom health coverage payments represent a disproportionate hardship; (iv) the expansion of services and programs proposed by the medicaid research and development waiver filed on behalf of the commonwealth in April of nineteen hundred and ninety-four under section 1115 of the Social Security Act; provided, however, that any contingencies stated by the United States health care financing administration regarding said waiver shall be taken into consideration; and (v) effects of the federal ERISA act on achieving universal coverage.
(b) to investigate and report on the need for health insurance market reforms intended to increase the affordability and accessibility of health insurance including, but not limited to, the following: (i) the need for a statewide uniform standard benefits package; (ii) the need for regional or statewide health insurance purchasing cooperatives; (iii) merger of the nongroup and small group insurance markets into a single community-rated risk pool; (iv) the use of risk adjustment as a mechanism for creating a fair and equitable access to insurance coverage; and (v) other relevant issues which may impact on consumer access to health insurance and fairness and competitiveness in the health insurance market.
(c) to design a plan to constrain the growth of per capita health care costs in the commonwealth. Said plan shall examine options including, but not limited to (i) the establishment of an annual global health care budget or expenditure targets for the commonwealth; (ii) reforms designed to decrease the practice of defensive medicine; (iii) reforms designed to improve treatment protocols, practice standards and establish outcomes measures; (iv) reforms designed to decrease the administrative costs associated with health care delivery by establishing a uniform billing and claims format utilizing electronic data interchange; and (v) reforms of the determination of need program and other regulatory controls to achieve optimal effects on the costs of health care delivery.
(d) to design a plan for monitoring the conduct of participants in the health care industry in order to protect consumer interest in quality, affordable and accessible health care services. Said plan shall include, but not be limited to, an investigation of mergers, acquisitions, cooperative agreements and affiliations between and among health care providers, provider groups and health care facilities.
(e) to design a plan for promoting the standardization, collection, analysis and dissemination of information related to health care costs and the provision of health care services in the commonwealth.
(f) to investigate and report on the impact on health care costs, quality, and access of regulatory and legislative proposals that affect the ability of health insurers and self-insured plans, including health maintenance organizations, to contract with selected networks of health care providers.
In pursuing its responsibilities and duties, the commission is hereby authorized and directed to consult with parties affected by said commission's matters of study and shall, prior to voting on any final recommendations, consult with the parties affected by said recommendations.
Said commission shall file its final report with the clerks of the senate and the house of representatives and with the governor on or before the last Monday of September, nineteen hundred and ninety-five.
SECTION 5. The department of medical security and the secretary of administration and finance are hereby authorized and directed to conduct a review of the solvency of the medical security plan trust fund established by section sixteen of chapter one hundred and eighteen F of the General Laws. Said review shall assess the solvency of said trust fund, assuming current employer assessment levels, current employee benefit levels and beneficiary utilization patterns in effect on the effective date of this section. Said review shall cover the immediate future, defined as the twelve months following said effective date, and the long-term future, defined as a period of ten years. Said review shall include specific recommendations to rectify any solvency problems identified in said review; provided, that said recommedations shall include options that do not reduce benefits or current eligibility standards for the program. A report of said review and recommendations shall be filed with the house and senate committees on ways and means within ninety days after the effective date of this section.
SECTION 6. The provisions of sections one, two and three shall take effect on January first, nineteen hundred and ninety-five.