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Massachusetts healthcare pricing panel members named after ballot measure fizzles

The ballot proposal would have created a floor and ceiling for commercial payment rates.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Partners Healthcare, the state's largest hospital system, could have stood to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance reimbursements.Partners Healthcare, the state's largest hospital system, could have stood to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance reimbursements.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has named eight appointees to the 23-member Special Commission to Review Variation in Prices among Providers, a group that was formed after a ballot initiative was sidelined earlier this year that would have regulated the prices that hospitals could charge for services in that New England state.

A healthcare workers' union had been lobbying on behalf of a bill and a ballot question that would limit the disparities in what commercial insurers can pay different hospitals for the same procedure.

The proposal would have created a floor and a ceiling for commercial payment rates. That mean private insurers, in effect, could not pay hospitals more than a certain percentage above or below the amount paid to similar hospitals. While smaller community hospitals would have gotten more money, Partners Healthcare, the state's largest hospital system, could have stood to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance reimbursements.

[Also: Connecticut's FAIR health app aims to improve price transparency]

The commission was part of the Baker administration's agreement to withdraw the ballot item. It will review various factors contributing to price variation in physician, hospital, diagnostic testing and ancillary services under a consensus reform deal reached in partnership with Senate President Stan Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

Among the committees gubernatorial appointees is David Torchiana, president and CEO of Partners Healthcare.

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Baker's other appointments include Kate Walsh, president and CEO of Boston Medical Center; Mark Goldstein, president and CEO of Anna Jacques Hospital; Steve Carey, vice president of human resources at seltzer company Polar Beverages; Richard Frank, a health economist from the Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy; Tyrek Lee, executive vice president of healthcare union 1199SEIU; Gregory DeConcillis, an administrator at Boston Out-Patient Surgical Suites; and Connie Englert, managing director of Shelburne Falls transportation and consulting collaborative TrueNorth Transit Group.

Twitter: @JELagasse