Now those stakeholders and the state government have a huge investment to protect. But the task of cost-cutting remains difficult in a state with a long tradition of heavy spending on health care. Massachusetts has more doctors per capita than any state, Boston is home to some of the country’s most expensive academic medical centers, and a new state law requires comprehensive benefits like prescription drug and mental health coverage.
…“Just as this may have been the easiest place to do coverage, it may be the most difficult place to do cost control,” said Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
But Mr. Patrick has shown signs of playing tough with the state’s hospitals and insurers. Responding in January to a series in The Boston Globe that exposed how the state’s most influential hospitals negotiate high reimbursement rates, Mr. Patrick announced that he would explore whether the state could regulate insurance premiums.
“Frankly, it’s very hard for the average consumer, or frankly the average governor, to understand how some of these companies can have the margins they do and the annual increases in premiums that they do,” Mr. Patrick said in an interview. “At some level, you’ve just got to say, ‘Look, that’s just not acceptable, and more to the point, it’s not sustainable.’ ”