Baker’s proposal is being filed late in the legislative session. Even if legislative leaders decide to take up the bill, it would still need to go through committee hearings where lawmakers are likely to make changes to it.
Massachusetts has some of the highest health care costs in the country, which have been increasing in recent years despite efforts to contain them. But the state reported a drop in spending on health care during the pandemic when hospitals diverted people to deal with a tidal wave of COVID-19 patients.
Overall, spending on health care declined by 2.4% in the state in 2020, which was attributed to less people seeking care during the pandemic, according to a report released Monday by the state Center for Health Information and Analysis.
Total spending on health care last year was estimated at $62.6 billion — roughly $8,912 per resident — a drop of $400 million compared to 2019 estimates.
Amy Rosenthal, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Health Care for All, welcomed Baker’s new proposal and said it “makes important steps to remove barriers to care” that have been highlighted by the pandemic.
Rosenthal said the public health crisis over the past two years “has highlighted the urgent need to make health care premiums more affordable, address behavioral health care and bring down high prescription drug prices.”
“People are struggling. They are making difficult choices to access and afford the treatments they need,” she added. “We can no longer wait to take action.”
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