November GIC 2019

On November 21st 2019 at 8:30am, the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) met at One Ashburton Place in Boston to discuss the upcoming months and the remainder of the 2020 fiscal year.

Dr. Roberta Herman started the meeting with her Director’s Report. One of the first topics discussed was this year’s flu campaign. As we’re nearing winter, flu season has become a primary focus. Over 200 GIC members have already been vaccinated this season. The largest cost-preventative measure for people and the healthcare system are flu vaccinations, so if you haven’t received yours already, please get one!

The other major item in the report focused on the upcoming listening sessions and meeting with union officials before collective bargaining. The GIC is currently organizing five listening sessions across the state over the next two months. GIC members will have the opportunity to voice their concerns at these sessions. These listening sessions will culminate in a meeting with union officials sometime in January. Once dates and locations of the listening sessions are finalized in the next few weeks, we’ll make the information of these available for the public.

The GIC also spent some time talking about the legislative updates around healthcare financing, especially around H.1133 which is focused on trying to address pharmaceutical access, cost, and transparency. The GIC also referenced union leader’s call for out of pocket healthcare expenses to be capped.

After the Director’s Report, the bulk of the meeting concentrated on Massachusetts healthcare cost trends. Ray Campbell, Executive Director for the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), spoke to costs of plans in the Healthcare system. His main assessment was that Massachusetts healthcare expenditures have risen 3.1% to 60.9 billion dollars, which is on par with the national average’s percentage increase. The one caveat was that even though the price of healthcare has steadily risen with the national average, member cost-sharing and premiums are rising faster than their wages and salaries. Therefore, the burden of payment is falling increasingly on working people.

In the second half of the presentation, David Seltz, Executive Director for the Health Policy Commission, discussed healthcare cost trends in Massachusetts in relation to both the U.S. and patient outcomes. Massachusetts continues to have higher inpatient hospital admission rates compared to the United States. These admission rates can be attributed to a higher density of hospitals and an older population compared to the rest of the country. This fact is highlighted by the increasing number of Medicare recipients being discharged from hospitals in relation to commercial health insurance plans. Commercial plans in Massachusetts continue to get more expensive, even though the number of inpatient discharges continue to decrease. Overall, Massachusetts healthcare costs continue to increase mostly due to price rather than more services rendered.  

At the end of the presentation, John Harney and Paul Murphy led the discussion on GIC modernization efforts and how GIC is going paperless while also having a new user-friendly link with the “myGIClink.” The meeting concluded at 11am.