Entries by Joshua Archambault

340B Drug Discounts: An Increasingly Dysfunctional Program

This report reviews the federal 340B drug discount program, showing that, over the past decade, the revenue for hospitals generated by the program, initially intended to serve low-income, uninsured populations, has exploded even while a number of important Massachusetts hospitals have reduced the level of charity care they provide. The study notes that nationwide, 340B drug sales rose from $9 billion in 2014 to $38 billion in 2020.

Rating the States on Telehealth Best Practices: A Toolkit for a Pro-Patient and Provider Landscape

The toolkit aims to help policymakers take the next step toward a more quality-oriented, affordable, and innovative health system by ensuring that their state laws on telehealth remove deleterious barriers that have historically discriminated against those in certain geographies, such as those living in rural communities or in underserved urban areas. This report explains policy best practices for ensuring that providers and patients can fully realize the benefits of using telehealth services when appropriate and provides a simple-to-read stoplight rating for each state on how closely their policies align with those best practices.

Ten Health Policy Changes That Should Outlive COVID-19

A new study published by Pioneer Institute recommends ten healthcare reforms allowed during COVID-19 that should remain in effect permanently, after the state’s emergency declaration for COVID-19 ends on June 15. These reforms have enhanced flexibility in the healthcare system, highlighting barriers that make the system more expensive, harder to access and less patient-centered.

Direct Health Care Agreements: A New Option for Patient-Centered Care That Costs Less and Reduces Provider Burnout

Especially in the COVID era, many are looking to alleviate the increased burden on the healthcare system.  One solution is direct healthcare (DHC), which can provide more patient-centered care at affordable prices and is an effective model to increase access to care for the uninsured, underinsured and those on public programs like Medicaid. This paper aims to explain the possible benefits of DHCs, often using DPCs as an example, as they have built a successful record around the country and in Massachusetts.

Status of Healthcare Price Transparency across the United States

At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has caused massive shifts in state policies on telehealth and scope of practice in healthcare, a new Pioneer Institute study underscores that most of the 50 states continue to suffer from weak laws regarding price transparency.  The study identified states that have laws that require carriers, providers or both to provide personalized cost information to consumers before obtaining healthcare services.

Baker needs to expand telehealth further

This op-ed appeared in Commonwealth magazine on March 25th, 2020. Coronavirus crisis is an opportunity to get it right GOV. CHARLIE BAKER and his team have been rolling out almost daily emergency orders and guidance to react to the spreading of COVID-19. Many of the health care orders have waived barriers in law that stand in the way of public or patient-focused care. There is a growing acknowledgement that telehealth is a vital tool to serve patients and protect medical providers, and Gov. Baker has taken some important steps to address current obstacles. But more steps are urgently needed to harness the full benefits of technology that allows for clinical “visits” with providers via a video connection or the transmitting of […]

What Massachusetts Should Do in an Uncertain Healthcare World

Regardless of what happens in the debate over repealing and replacing the ACA in D.C., Massachusetts has to tackle health care costs intelligently. We need to do more than provide insurance; we need to increase access to care. That means thinking seriously about the role of private market insurers, insurance regulations and the regulation of medical providers.

Op-ed: Health fee pinches taxpayers

Read this op-ed in the Boston Herald (September 4, 2016). Sometimes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) seems like part of history. While headlines about implementation pains persist, many changes are taking place under the radar. One such change that has received almost no attention is a new fee on Medicaid, called MassHealth in Massachusetts. The ACA contained roughly 20 revenue-raising provisions to help fund coverage expansions. One of these new fees (the Health Insurance Provider Fee, or HIPF) is assessed, in part, on companies providing coverage for those on MassHealth, but now taxpayers are funding the entire cost of the fee. It may sound odd, but the fee amounts to the federal government taxing state governments and itself. Paying it increases […]

Whistleblowers Expose the Massachusetts Connector

State officials knew that development of a federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) website was off track for more than a year before the October 1, 2013 launch date.  Instead of raising concerns about the project, they misled the public by minimizing the shortcomings of the contractor hired to build the website, asked state workers to approve shoddy work and appear to have covered up the project’s abysmal progress in a presentation to federal officials.

Boston Herald: To-do List for New Governor to Fix Health Site

By Josh Archambault and Eric Dahlberg. This op-ed originally appeared in the Boston Herald on Nov. 7, 2014. Our state health insurance exchange’s failed website will be one of the major headaches that Charlie Baker’s administration will inherit. Massachusetts’ first-in-the-nation Health Connector site, launched in 2006, has been out of service since Oct. 1, 2013, the now-infamous “go live” date for its Affordable Care Act successor. What an irony that the state exchange that served as inspiration for our federal health reform law has been rendered inoperable by that law’s implementation. After over a year of taxpayer-funded rework, the Patrick administration has assured the public that the Connector will be up and running by Nov. 15, just in time for […]

Deval’s Big Dig: Responding to the Governor on Connector Report

When we talk about the Big Dig, we talk in big, round numbers. Why?  Because it cost gobs of money. You can debate whether it was worth it, and for years we did. Journalists dug into the story. Careers were dashed and fortunes were made in the process. We don’t distinguish between federal and state dollars in discussing the Big Dig. We say it cost $16 billion, not $XX for the state and $YY for the Feds. And rightfully so: The question has always been about value and how the associated costs spiraled out of control. [quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]We join that call on the Administration to release a full and detailed response to the report, so we all can settle […]

The Undisclosed Cost of Developing an Affordable Care Act State Exchange in Massachusetts

The transition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Massachusetts has been a bumpy one, to say the least. The state still lacks a functional website, and currently has almost 300,000 individuals on a newly created transitional Medicaid (MassHealth) program, with almost no program integrity provisions being observed, as little eligibility verification was run on the population upon enrollment.

Massachusetts to Default to Healthcare.gov, After Hail Mary to Save Its Exchange

Yesterday Massachusetts officials announced plans to default to Healthcare.gov, but also announced a quixotic sprint to try first try to rebuild the entire site in five months with a brand new, no-bid taxpayer-paid contract to health care software developer hCentive. This move comes eight months into open enrollment, after launching the worst performing exchange in the country, spending most of the $180 million from Washington and announcing that original contractor CGI would be fired—even though it is still working on the project. The announcement should leave taxpayers and policymakers scratching their heads and wondering about the lack of accountability, government management and procurement.  A “Dual-Track” Strategy Kyle Cheney at Politico broke the story: Massachusetts is taking steps this week to […]

100+ Unanswered Questions about the Failed Connector ACA Website

As a result of the failed Connector website, 160,000 Massachusetts residents are on temporary public Medicaid coverage even though they don’t qualify for MassHealth. Failure at the Connector will cost Massachusetts taxpayers over $100 million dollars this year. So, Pioneer has questions about how Massachusetts went from having a well-functioning Exchange to one of the worst performances of any state in the Union: 102 questions to be exact. This week legislators on Beacon Hill are finally convening a second hearing in the seventh month since open enrollment started under the ACA, on the failures at the Connector. This follows a recent Congressional hearing featuring the executive director of the Connector, and a February hearing in Boston where legislators simply vented […]

Fall River Herald News: Guest Opinion: Mass. Health Care Connector’s failures show disconnect of ACA exchanges

By Josh Archambault Date: April 10, 2014 Read it here. Seven months after open enrollment began under the Affordable Care Act, Massachusetts’ online health insurance exchange doesn’t work, and the state government is just firing the primary contractor CGI, without a final plan for how to fix it. Since we can’t change the past, the commonwealth must immediately focus on how to make the best of an exceedingly bad situation. Massachusetts’ Health Care Connector should give up the idea of running its own website and partner with the federal exchange. The state should only keep control of what functions are unique to Massachusetts, but rely on the systems recently fixed by some of America’s brightest tech minds. This could offer […]

Mass Connector Called Before Congress To Explain Failed Rollout

Chris Cassidy at the Boston Herald is reporting that Jean Yang, the executive director of the Massachusetts Health Connector, will be called before two Congressional committees to explain the failings of the exchange under the ACA on Thursday April 3rd at 10am. It should be noted that Yang will be the only executive director who has not been fired or resigned due to the poor performance of their state based exchange of the states invited that are likely to testify. These states include Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, and Oregon. As I have written about before, Massachusetts has the distinction of currently being the worst performing exchange in the country. Meanwhile, Governor Patrick has expressed his support for the current leadership […]

ACA Spiking Premiums in Massachusetts, More Than 300 Cancellations of Plans

The Patrick Administration has been publicly touting that health care premiums are only going to go up 2% this year in the Commonwealth. However the anecdotal evidence fails to back up that assessment, and in a future post I will explain the intentionally misleading nature of that number. In short, the Division of Insurance asked the insurance companies to restate 2013 rates as if the ACA was in effect, to make the premium difference seem lower for 2014 under the ACA. I have written numerous times on this blog about the changes come to the Bay State under the ACA, and the roller coaster effect we can expect small companies to experience, and now we have some evidence. I asked […]

General Court Silent On Connector Meltdown: Connector Playing Whac-A-Mole With Enrollment

Due to poor project management and failing IT contractors, the Connector has been forced into a very expensive game of whac-a-mole for enrollment under the ACA. Even after a tense Connector Board meeting last week, what remains unclear is how quickly the IT issues will be resolved, how much it will cost taxpayers, and why the public was told everything was functional up until the first day of open enrollment Oct 1st. Thankfully the media is finally turning up the spotlight on the major breakdown at the Massachusetts Connector over the past few months. Coverage last week included the  Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Springfield Republican and WLLP Channel 22. I will be writing about the depth of the problems in the near […]

Out of the Filing Cabinet and Into the Fire: How the Shift from Paper to Electronic Health Records Has Endangered Patient Privacy and Security and How to Calm the Flame

This paper will discuss the importance of secure medical records in health information exchanges (HIEs), the general history of EHRs in the US and in Massachusetts particularly, the history of privacy rights in the medical field, and finally efforts being taken to ensure more protected and private EHRs.

One Small Step Toward Consumer-Oriented Reform in Massachusetts Healthcare

Last week a little noticed but highly significant healthcare policy decision was made in the Commonwealth, and Pioneer Institute is proud to have been a long-time advocate for this consumer-friendly reform. Building on our research on the low cost, high-quaity care that can be offered at convenient care/limited service clinics, the state moved to allow more basic services to be offered in these settings. (Think CVS, Wal-Greens, Shop & Shop, and dozens of other retail based locations.) Last summer, Pioneer Institute joined with Associated Industries of Massachusetts, National Federation of Independent Businesses/Massachusetts, and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts in submitting written testimony to the Massachusetts Department of Public health in support of regulatory changes to expand services available at limited service clinics to include […]

“Barrier-Free Care”: An Idea That Should Hit the Wall in Committee

House Bill 2084, “An Act Relative to Keep People Healthy By Removing Barriers to Cost-effective Care,” joins the list of well-intentioned, but ill-conceived healthcare reform ideas in Massachusetts. No one likes paying money when they visit the doctor, and certainly those with chronic conditions should be able to receive the care they need, but is making some services “free” the answer? While I give the non-profit Health Care for All (HCFA) credit for trying to think creatively about how to make care affordable, they missed the mark with this bill. It ignores basic economics and fails to fix the problem it claims to address. The bill received a hearing last month in front of the Joint Committee on Public Health, […]

In Pictures: 15 Facts Pres. Obama Needs To Know About Mass.’s Healthcare Reform

During President Obama’s Boston visit to talk about the ACA and the Massachusetts experiment, it is important to remember some context. Here are a few pictures that help to illustrate the successes and failures of Mass reform. However, caution should be used when expecting the same results under the two laws, since the laws are different, and Massachusetts is not the same as Arizona, or Texas, or Alabama, or Ohio, or etc…. For example, read five reasons why employer behavior will not be the same under the ACA as it was under RomneyCare, Part 1 and Part 2.  But before we begin, let’s pause to recognize that the ACA will impact Massachusetts in some significant ways. ACA Comes to Massachusetts 1)     ACA Increases Costs […]

ACA Comes to Massachusetts: Post #1: 40% Premium Increase and Higher Co-pays On the Connector

Paul Levy has a compelling post over at his must-read blog, Not Running a Hospital. It will serve as the first post in an occasional, but ongoing, series documenting what the real impact of the ACA means in Massachusetts. For the last three years, our state leaders have been promising that the ACA will mean only improvements for the citizens of our state. Now reality is starting to set in… Do you have a personal story about the ACA you would like to share? E-mail me the details… josh [at] pioneerinst.wpengine.com I am happy to keep any story anonymous. Didn’t they promise lower costs? Ross Douthat writes in the New York Times that Americans will soon be able to get “a real look at what […]

More Americans In 3 States Have Had Their Insurance Canceled Under ObamaCare Than Have Filed An Exchange Account In All 50

This week the reality of the ObamaCare roll-out appeared in a set of news stories that serve as an ironic juxtaposition. Over 500,000 individuals have seen their insurance policies cancelled in just 3 states.  In all 50 states, only 476,000 applications have been “filed” in an exchange. (Even though we are still learning the true definition of “filed.”) First from Anna Gorman and Julie Appleby at Kaiser Health News: Thousands get insurance cancellation notices Florida Blue, for example, is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the state. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people – about half of its individual business in the state. Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about […]