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Governor Marks 5th Anniversary of Health Reform
at Dorchester House

4-12-11 Feature Story:

Dorchester House Multi-Service Center CEO Joel Abrams hosted Governor Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, EOHHS Secretary JudyAnn Bigby, MD, Connector Authority Executive Director Glen Shor, League CEO Jim Hunt, NHP CEO Deborah Enos and other healthcare, business and advocacy leaders for a celebration marking the 5th anniversary of the signing of the state's health care reform law. Since 2006, Massachusetts has achieved the highest rate of insurance in the country with 98.1 percent of residents insured. A major focus of the event was the key role community health centers have played in the law's implementation, including launch of early and massive outreach and enrollment campaigns for the newly insured, recruitment of primary care providers to low-income communities and expansion of primary and preventive care to larger numbers of state residents.

In addition, NHP CEO Deborah Enos unveiled some data that holds out hope that increased public access to primary and preventive care can improve health and drive down patient use of more expensive parts of the health care system. While data collection efforts focused on the newly insured are recent, it appears that the investment in creating access to a model of health care that addresses the needs of a previously uninsured population has the potential to translate into measurable gains in public health, including an improvement in the prevention and control of chronic disease which, when left untreated, drives the majority of health care spending.

According to some preliminary data, emergency department visits for approximately 60,000 Boston residents enrolled in Neighborhood Health Plan decreased overall by 20 percent between 2008 and 2010. More specifically, of those residents who are Commonwealth Care members, the decline in ER visits fell 57 percent. This drop is striking as it demonstrates how effectively patient behavior can be impacted, particularly among those with previously limited access to the primary care system.

Other speakers included: Gary Gottlieb, President and CEO, Partners HealthCare; Rick Lord, CEO, Associated Industries of Massachusetts; Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director, Health Care For All; Mary Kay Henry, President, SEIU; and the state's first Commonwealth Care recipient, Lynn Rhenisch. The event was organized by staff from the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and Health Care For All.

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